ISLAMABAD - Around 9,000 non-nationals managed to sneak into the well secured passport system and tricked immigration authorities by succeeding in getting Pakistani passports which speaks volumes of the inability of authorities to keep check on foreigners that are threatening the country's national security for the last many years.
According to the data of Directorate General of Immigration of Passports (DGI&P), as many as 8628 non-national managed to get Pakistani passports in the last six years during 2008-2014. However, Passport Office claims that all these passports have been cancelled now and all such foreigners have been placed on the blacklist after their passports have been made inactive.
A report of the Passport Office says that different security and intelligence agencies identified 8,628 foreigners who were holding Pakistani passports during the last six years.
The issue of illegal issuance of computerized national identity cards (CNICs) and passports to foreigners especially Afghan nationals has been haunting Pakistani authorities for quite some time especially after 9/11 due to the volatile security situation of the country.
The Passport Office shifts the blame on to the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) by saying that such passports in the possession of foreigners were issued on the basis of CNICs they had obtained illegally from Nadra.
Nadra that was established during military dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf regime and a responsible authority to issue CNICs, had been claiming in the past that it has one of the most secure systems of the world. However, different reports have come at different times in the past that the authority had issued thousands of illegal CNICs to foreign nationals , most of them Afghan nationals .
A report of the Ministry of Interior that was recently submitted by the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to the Parliament says that 4920 CNICs were issued illegally in Balochistan alone during the last two years. The report says that these illegal CNICs were issued from various centres of Nadra in Balochistan and most of these cards have been issued to foreigners. Out of these around 5000 CNICs, 1522 CNICs were issued to those persons who possessed more than one CNICs, 117 were declared confirmed aliens and 3281 have been marked as suspect cases of aliens. These suspected card holders have been blocked and were asked to appear before the Nadra verification board to prove their national status, says the report.
A question was sent to Nadra asking who was responsible for the issuance of these illegal passports , Nadra or Passport Directorate but no response came from higher authorities till the filing of this report.
In 2010, a question was raised from different circles on the Nadra's "self-proclaimed secure" registration system after recovery of a Pakistani CNIC from the possession of Abdolmalek Rigi, an Iranian terrorist and head of Iranian militant group Jundallah.
Iranian security personnel had recovered CNIC from Rigi while travelling on a flight heading towards an Arab country through Pakistan. However, then Nadra Chairman Tariq Malik at that time had claimed that CNIC was fake and had not been issued by the authority.
In 2015, Nadra officials in Peshawar had allegedly issued CNIC to Afghan woman Sharbat Bibi and some members of her family and this illegal action of the authority made headlines in the local and international media.
Sharbat had moved to Peshawar in 1984 from Afghanistan along with her family and since then, she has been residing in the Nasir Bagh camp established for Afghan refugees. Sharbat Bibi had become as the 'Afghan Girl' approximately at the age of 12 years when National Geographic Magazine published her photo on the cover of its June 1985 issue. The photo has been resembled with Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and it had been captured by National Geographic photographer at the Nasir Bagh refugee camp, situated in the suburbs of Peshawar.