ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Tuesday said that the former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari could not be barred from flying abroad as neither his name was on the no-fly list, nor he was facing any case in the country.

“Neither Asif Ali Zardari’s name was on the ECL [exit control list] nor is he facing any case so he could not be barred from going abroad,” said the minister, while responding to a question from a journalist at the Nadra Headquarters.

The journalist had questioned as to why a PPP leader, who recently flew abroad, was not barred from leaving the country.

A couple of days ago, former president left the country for Dubai to spend the month of Ramazan, and his close aides say that he would return on Eid.

While addressing the inauguration ceremony of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Mega Centre Lahore and two executive passport offices in Sargodha and Faisalabad at the Nadra Headquarters, the minister said that every district of the country would have a passport office soon with the addition of 84 new passport offices besides 12 executive passport offices.

He said that 84 passport offices were being set up throughout the country in addition to the total 88 offices that existed at the time when this government took power in 2013.

As many as 12 executive passport offices and nine Nadra mega centres are also being opened throughout the country soon, the minister said.

“Nine Nadra mega centres are under construction in all the provinces in the first stage and their formal inauguration would be made soon after Ramazan,” he said, adding that mega centres would remain open round-the-clock to facilitate the citizens.

A similar NADRA centre in Karachi would be inaugurated soon, while two such centres in the metropolitan city were already working. About executive passport offices, Chaudhry Nisar said that all 12 such offices would start working till September of this year.

The minister said that an additional amount of fee being charged from those customers who used to visit executive passport offices would be minimised to zero within phases. “We are soon starting e-passports,” he said.

The government is trying its level best to ensure that the Nadra centres should be close to every citizens, and passport offices should be in every district of the country.  “Unfortunately, work culture has not developed in Pakistan,” he admitted, while explaining the difficulties he was facing in the execution of such tasks.

The existing 557 Nadra centres are short of strength and they are being increased with the collaboration of the Pakistan Post. We are establishing new Nadra centres on sharing basis with Pakistan Post.

“We will establish such offices where staff of Pakistan Post and its building would be available,” he said, and added that such centres would only be for renewal and modification of the CNICs. 

“We are establishing 1,000 such centres during this year, and the number would be extended to 1,500 in the next stage,” he said.

The idea is that the NADRA and passport offices should be within the reach of the general masses, he said.

The minister informed the media persons that the government had cancelled 30,000 passports of confirmed aliens and no one had appealed against this decision of the government.

The Nadra had cancelled around 175,000 CNICs of suspected foreigners and 160,000 such suspected cards have been unblocked but all have been given the right to appeal.  From now onwards, no card would be blocked without due verification, he assured.

The minister explained that 3,600 people have voluntarily surrendered their CNICs and 10,000 suspected Afghan nationals having PoR (proof of registration) cards had got CNICs illegally, he said, adding that some of them were claiming that they had got PoR cards only to get aid from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Responding to a question, the minister said that billions of rupees had been spent on the construction of new offices of the NADRA and passport.

We have got budgetary approval for the construction of passport offices but mega centres and executive offices have been constructed through self generation of money by the NADRA, he said.

He also informed reporters that blocked cases of duplicate passports had been divided into three categories to unblock those, but added that acute cases would have to face regular inquiry.

On the question of appointment of the new DG of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the minister said that the prime minister had asked him to interview candidates and the name of panels would be sent to the prime minister soon for final approval.

He also brushed aside media reports that outgoing chief of the FIA Muhammad Amlish had any differences with him.

Amlish would retire on Wednesday after reaching the age of superannuation. The NADRA chairman, DG passports and other senior officers of the authority as well as passport office were also present on the occasion.