ISLAMABAD - The government yesterday said it will re-verify the national identity cards of all the citizens across the country in six months, revealing that Nadra has detected more cases of fake identities following the disclosure that former Afghan Taliban chief held a fake Pakistani card.

"This is not a single case of Wali Muhammad (the cover name mentioned on the card used by Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Masour) as more such cases have been detected after Nadra (National Database and Registration Authority) became proactive (following Masour’s killing) and some startling facts have come to surface," said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

Although the minister refused to divulge the name of any high profile foreign militant who had been using Pakistani CNIC (computerised national identity card), he said such cards were being issued for the last 10 to 12 years.

At the same time, he quickly said that no fake card was issued during his three years tenure rather these were issued during previous regimes. "Fakes cards were distributed like sweets in the past," he said, and added: "We are working on some new angles in the light of new evidences that have come to surface."

Addressing a press conference after chairing a meeting at Nadra Headquarters, the minister said despite criticism on his announcement to re-verify all Pakistanis CNICs after the killing of Mansour in a drone strike, Nadra had been tasked to complete the re-verification within six months.

A help line is being established to hear complaints against Nadra as the authority had blocked cards of some Pakistanis under vested interests. Any card would be blocked after proper investigations, he said and warned Nadra not to harass the citizens in the name of blocking of CNICs.

He said that the decision had been taken despite repeated warnings to him that the task was too difficult to complete and costly as well. “I was advised the same on the issue of verification of cellular phone SIMs but the task was completed within 90 days. We have to start the (CNICs) verification process for the security of Pakistan."

Nisar said, "We will target 25 million family trees (comprising 105 million CNICs holders) during the re-verification process and letters are being written to all family heads for re-verification of their all family members under a tree.” Fake cards were issued after inserting the names of illegal persons in family trees, he added.

The minister also announced amnesty of two months for illegal CNIC and passport holders and said if they would withdraw their cards and passports within given time, no action would be taken against them.  Similarly, no action would be taken against those Nadra and passport office officials who had helped in issuing fake CNICs and passports who would voluntarily point out all irregularities within two months.

But after two months, if any official is found involved in any irregularity, he would not only face dismissal but also 14 years imprisonment under the law. And, fake cards or passports hiders would face seven years imprisonment after expiry of the amnesty period.

"I have formed a legal team," Nisar said, adding that he would lead the whole exercise. He said that a reward scheme was being announced for those Pakistani citizens who will point out aliens having fake CNICs and a help line was being established in this regard. Reiterating the stance that it would be unbearable for any respectful country to sell its nationality illegally, he said that the issue was of the security of Pakistan.

The minister said that a committee had been formed in Nadra, including the personnel of intelligence agencies, to look after the re-verification process.

He said that he had proposed a parliamentary committee to the National Assembly speaker to oversee all this exercise of Nadra and the authority's committee should give its progress report to it fortnightly or monthly.

While ensuring that his government was already working to cancel fake CNICs and passports, Nisar said, "We have cancelled 29,000 illegal passports since 2013." He while giving the figure said that a small number of passports were cancelled from 2006 to 2012.

Similarly, “we have sacked 826 Nadra employees during last three years for their involvement in corrupt practices”, he said and added that the figure was very high as compared to action taken during previous regimes.

Nisar announced that some administrative changes had been made in Nadra and16 posts of DGs had been abolished out of 26. Similarly, the services of passports directorate are being notified under Essential Services Act like that of Nadra and “we will take some administrative steps under this notification”.

Responding questions, he said Nadra had initiated cases against two parliamentarians on whose verification some fake CNICs were issued. Commenting over the remarks of interior minister of Balochistan, he said this was not the policy of Pakistan to send back Afghan refugees forcefully. "The interior ministry would raise the issue of effective border management in the next National Security Committee," he said.

Nisar came down hard on media for its criticism on the government's decision, saying that some so-called intellectuals were in the habit of criticising every government decision.

"I held a press conference on the killing of Mullah Mansour after media raised questions that interior minister did not give his take on the incident," he said and quoted an ambassador of a brotherly country as saying that some elements in the Pakistani media were damaging country's national narrative on drone attacks and terrorism.