The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has initiated the revalidation process of arms licences after evidence surfaced that thousands issued by the interior ministry are forged against the backdrop of rising incidents of violence.
“It’ll be difficult for us to verify the licences without complete documentation,” a senior official of the Arms Licence Management System (ALMS) told The Express Tribune. “Around 32, 000 fake arms licences issued by the interior ministry in the last three years will be forwarded to NADRA Registration Centres (NRCs) for confirmation.” Despite the ban around 8,590 arm licences were issued by NADRA on the PM’s directions, he said. “We are not entertaining incomplete applications at all.” Notices sent by the government to NADRA for 178 arm licences were fake, he added. NADRA is likely to raise the issue of 138 forged licences issued to foreigners with the interior ministry’s approval.
A Senate panel was informed in April that these licences were issued to American defence contractor, DynCorp, which paid out $0.2 million as illegal gratification with assistance from the American envoy to Pakistan in 2009.
An interior ministry spokesperson denied the allegation that they were sending incomplete data to NADRA. He said 23,000 fake licenses have already been cancelled. An employee of the Ministry of Information Technology who issued these licenses with the complicity of senior officials of the interior ministry was dismissed from service. “We have been directed to send all relevant details to NADRA to make the process transparent.” According to details issued by NADRA original CNICs and original licences are a prerequisite for revalidation. NADRA is verifying the CNICs from its database to check their authenticity while the applicant’s credentials will be vetted by law enforcement agencies. All original booklets will be forwarded by NADRA to the interior ministry for crosschecking.
NADRA has qualified personnel to develop and manage ALMS which will ensure that arms licenses are genuine. NADRA is all set to verify arms licences on the interior minister’s directions, said Deputy Chairman NADRA, Tariq Malik in a statement. “However, approval of arms licences is the sole discretion of the concerned ministry. NADRA will only process approved applications.”
NADRA has set up 158 centres where separate counters have been designated for renewal of arms licenses, officials said. There are 13 NRCs in Multan, 30 in Quetta, 14 in Lahore, 10 in Sargodha, 32 in Peshawar, 24 in Islamabad, 11 in Hyderabad, 10 in Sukkur, 13 in Karachi and one centre in G-10 sector, Islamabad. The government has extended the deadline for renewal of arms licences from August 31 to September 30. However, this project does not include computerisation of manual arms licences issued by provincial governments.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2011.