Forget terrorism. Forget the energy crisis. We now have a real problem on our hands. You know things have taken a definite turn for the worse when even politicians and VIPs cannot get their work done on time. When delays in the NADRA system affects even the most powerful. Altaf Hussain’s NICOP application and three weeks of delays have caused an uproar amongst the MQM faithful and the opposition benches, and the government has received severe criticism for not giving Mr. Hussain the special treatment he deserves. Altaf Hussain is no common man, nor is he a part of the general public, so why are the loopholes in the system designed to help the influential, not working in his favour?

Mr. Hussain’s request for the renewal of his passport does not necessarily mean that he is seeking to come back to Pakistan anytime soon, nor does it signify that he wants to contest in any elections, considering his British nationality makes it impossible for him to do so. Those that seek political asylum in foreign countries are guaranteed the right of return to their home country by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Pakistani Citizenship Act of 1951 is not clear on asylum seekers and their return, but having a dual nationality is perfectly legal as long as the other country is England or one of its colonies, which means Altaf Hussain is perfectly justified in demanding for a renewal of his passport. The fact that he was given a receipt for his NICOP means that the government’s justification of errors in the system is not good enough. But still, the move for new documentation is more symbolic than practical, which makes all of this ruckus nothing more than a petty political exchange that is being used to digress from the real issues the country needs to address.

The PML-N government is making itself look foolish by making childish excuses of loss of data and incomplete fingerprint scans to mask the incompetence of NADRA. No one would have labeled this delay as politically motivated had the explanations of the PML-N been more coherent. The MQM is raising hue and cry over this issue and for that the blame goes to the government, which could have easily avoided the entire episode. The MQM is now threatening the government with a nationwide protest if Altaf Hussain does not receive his passport. All of the political parties of Pakistan are now focused on this issue; the public can rest easy with the knowledge that their representatives have their priorities straight.