ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Rehman Malik Tuesday made two important announcements, one lifting of ban on Pakistan Origin Card (POC) issuance to foreign national spouses of Pakistani origin foreigners as well as their children, and the other to abolish black list that included the names of those Pakistani having double passports or CNICs.

Interior Ministry, the same day, also issued a separate notification in this regard, though the decision of the ministry can trigger criticism from certain quarters as such ban had been imposed during Musharraf regime on security grounds. The notification says that all foreign missions and NADRA (National Database & Registration Authority) offices would be able to issue these POCs.

The minister made these announcements at NADRA headquarters where State Minister for Interior Imtiaz Safdar Warriach, Chairman NADRA Tariq Malik and Secretary Interior K M Siddique Akbar were also present.

Rehman Malik also announced to revalidate the POCs of 19,925 such foreign national spouses whose POCs had become invalid after the imposition of ban. He said that the decision would benefit around 111,743 foreign national spouses of Pakistani origin foreigners besides their children.

NADRA issues POCs to those foreigners who have renounced their Pakistani citizenship to get the nationality of other country as a number of countries don’t accept dual nationality.

Malik informed reporters during the ceremony that such POCs would be issued to spouses and children of foreigners having Pakistani origin on the production of a marriage certificate duly attested by the respective embassies or Foreign Office.

The minister also appreciated NADRA’s initiative for launching NADRA smart card, which he termed a miracle document, saying the cardholder would be entitled for accidental life insurance. “The purpose is to create a bond between people and the government,” he added. He directed NADRA chairman to include eye features in the smart card besides fingerprints so that no one could misuse this card or no forgery could be done in this regard.

Malik informed media persons that the Interior Ministry had issued another notification to abolish black list present with NADRA and Directorate of Passports. “Because this practice has become a major source of corruption and people had to face difficulties as well,” he added He said that action would be taken against those government officials who would not comply with these orders. He further said such persons would only submit an affidavit with NADRA or Passport Office describing the reason to cancel their previous passports or CNICs. He also announced waiver of 10,000 NADRA fee for a period of six months necessary for cancellation of such cards.

About the progress of FIA regarding investigations of Asghar Khan case, the minister said FIA had sought legal opinion from the law minister and some documents from the Supreme Court of Pakistan to start the investigation process. “FIA is doing its job an we will like that the investigations should be transparent,” he also said.

While replying questions, Malik also told reporters that Interior Ministry had sought permission from the court to make public an investigation report of Benazir Bhutto assassination case that was part of police/ FIA investigations and not challan report. He said that the report contained startling revelations. He also said FIA could not extradite Musharraf in connection with BB case because he took a plea through his counsel that the case had been registered against him was on political grounds.

He said that Passport Directorate had started issuing passports with 10-year validity and the entire backlog would be cleared soon as Finance Ministry had released funds. He informed that Sindh High Court had issued a stay order barring NADRA to issue computerized arms licenses and soon these would be re-started as he expected a favourable decision from the court.

On a question about the incidents of cross-border terrorism near Chitral,

Rehman Malik said he has asked the Afghan authorities to control such incidents, otherwise Pakistan would respond. “The Afghan authorities should also arrest Maulvi Fazlullah and hand over him to Pakistan,” he added.