ISLAMABAD - The Passport Office Wednesday informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior that as many 5,065 Pakistanis renounced their citizenship during the last one and half year while only 111 foreigners got Pakistani citizenship during the same period.

Director General Immigration and Passports Ishrat Ali while briefing the committee about the structure and working of his organisation informed that 3,563 Pakistanis renounced their citizenship during the last fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2018. Similarly, 1502 Pakistanis renounced their citizenship in the first six months of ongoing fiscal year. He said that those Pakistanis renounced citizenship that got nationality of those countries that had no dual nationality agreement signed with Pakistan.

He told the meeting which met in the chair of ruling party member of National Assembly Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz that only 88 feigners got Pakistani nationality during the last fiscal year while 23 foreigners were issued Pakistani nationality in the first six months of ongoing fiscal year 2018-2019. He said that mostly foreign spouses of Pakistani nationalists applied for the nationality of the country. He expressed his surprise the number of those surrendered the nationality was bigger than those who got the citizenship.

Only 111 foreigners got Pak citizenship during the same period

According to DG Passports, as many 4141 and 845 persons were included in the Black List of passport office for fiscal year 2017-2018 and the first six months of fiscal year 2018-2019 respectively. Separately, 706 and 376 people were included in the Foreign Control List (Blacklist) for the same period.

He further said that passport office issued as many 3, 723, 145 passports during fiscal year 2017-2018 and 2, 146, 901 passports were issued in the first six months of ongoing fiscal year. Similarly, the passport office gave 71,377 and 29,751 extensions in visas for the same period. These extensions were for family, student, business and tourist visas.

Ali said that 173 passports offices were operating throughout the country and 93 were working in Pakistan’s foreign missions aboard. The government policy is that there should be a passport office in every district of the country, he said adding now almost every district had its own office. He said that there were only 28 passport offices in 2004 in the country.

DG Passports also informed lawmakers that e-passport for Pakistanis would be introduced within two or three months and the project had been completed with the US$ 5 million.

The committee directed that district passport offices functioning at Saddar Karachi should be shifted to the respective districts to facilitate the public. The chair also remarked that action should be initiated against the contractor who left the construction work of passport office in district Sukkar of Sindh incomplete and allegedly embezzled the money.

While discussing the National Database and Registration Authority (Amendment) Bill 2019, DG (Operations) NADRA Brigadier (retd) Nisar Mir informed the committee that the authority had blocked more than 3,00000 CNICs (computerized national identity cards) after the killing of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in a drone attack in Pakistan in 2016. “Now the number of blocked CNICs was 1, 55000 while the remaining had been cleared and unblocked,” he added.

He said that the District Level Committees (DLCs) headed by deputy commissioner concerned were responsible to clear these cards on case to case basis.

The lawmakers came down hard on DLCs for not clearing the pending cases. The draft law also called for making the verification procedure of clearance of CNICs adopted by DLCs part of the legislation which was opposed by NADRA. NADRA was of the view that DLCs were a temporary arrangement because of the issue of Afghan nationals having fake CNICS and this procedure should not be made part of the legislation. The committee rejected the bill, which was moved by Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, followed by the walkout of the mover from the meeting as a protest.

 DG (Projects) NADRA Zulfiqar Ali told the committee that the government had registered 70.7 million Afghan nationals during the past some time and many of them had fake CNICs and all these had been blocked.

The lawmakers showed concerns that NADRA had even blocked the CNICs of genuine Pakistanis. Brigadier (retd) Mir said that there were 148 million Pakistanis registered with NADRA and 1,55000 blocked CNICs was very low number in percentage as compared to the total number.

DG (Projects) ensured the meeting that authority was working to evolve a mechanism to solve the matter. The committee emphasized the authority to get the DLCs activated to resolve the issue of blocked CNICs.

The committee raised question about recent recruitments made in NADRA. It directed the Ministry of Interior to provide details of advertisements published by NADRA during last one year regarding recruitments along with recruitment criteria.