It is unfortunate that a well-reputed newspaper like ‘The Nation’, has taken upon itself to indulge in ‘MoI bashing’ every now and then- without reason or logic. A particular case in point is your editorial “The Brainless Brainchild” dated 11 June 2016. 

While we at the Ministry (and the Minister in particular) welcome criticism and seek guidance from a lot of what is reported in the press, but when the tone and tenor of your editorial becomes personal and illogical, it does become more counter-productive than beneficial. 

In your editorial, you have talked about the “self-congratulatory tone” of the Minister. What is wrong with a bit of self congratulation if one has achieved a difficult target in the minimum time? The Nation itself indulges in self-congratulation when some of its predictions and assessments turn out to be true or correct. But to set the record straight, more than indulging in self-congratulation, the Minister was making a point that nothing was impossible given the will and determination. 

To begin with, contrary to the impression given by the editorial, CNIC re-verification drive does not hinge on just sending sms. To the contrary, it is a part of multi-pronged strategy. The overall strategy includes : data analysis schemes for verification including across the board fraud detection and mathematical modeling, utilization of PTA’s data for identification of aliens who have managed to get identity in the past, an amnesty scheme establishment of helpline and family tree intrusion detection through SMS. 

Furthermore, keeping in view the spectrum and various features of our population, including literacy rate, socio-economic factors and other dynamics, a deliberate effort has been made to keep the strategy as simple as possible without compromising the overall output and to ensure maximum out-reach and participation of the masses. 

The impression as if “the government is taking none of the responsibility for re-verification; instead it has shifted the burden on to the population” is again erroneous and incorrect. The re-verification exercise is a national security drive and such a national security exercise can only succeed with a national sense of shared responsibility and strong partnership of all stakeholders, including the media. As far as the point regarding willful ignoring of the sms is concerned, in case a family doesn’t respond to sms, there is a strong probability that such cases would be automatically detected through other means including thorough data analysis. 

Besides, any attempt to give ethnic colour to the national drive is highly unfortunate. It is reiterated that CNIC re-verification is not racial screening or against any segment of the society. Re-verification of CNICs is a national drive covering nook and corner of the state, launched without cast, creed or colour to verify the authenticity of CNIC holders and to detect aliens holding Pakistani citizenship. 

If in spite of all this, The Nation thinks it is not appropriate or relevant to engage in this national security drive, we would be grateful for guidance as to what exactly is the solution or the way forward in addressing this issue which has assumed international proportions after the recent drone incident in Balochistan. 

SARFRAZ HUSSAIN,  

Spokesperson Ministry of Interior,  

June 15.