Over 3,500 foreign nationals married to Pakistanis in a bind

Interior ministry has banned issuance of Pakistan Origin Card


Danish Hussain March 15, 2017
PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Over 3,500 foreign nationals married to Pakistanis have been pushed between a rock and a hard place because of the interior ministry’s decision to ban issuance of the relevant Pakistani identity document – Pakistan Origin Card – to them.

Bank accounts and properties in Pakistan of those affected by the government’s move could potentially be frozen or at the very least become inaccessible.

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Neither the ministry has been admitting new POC applications which, according to Nadra’s website, have surged to 15,673, nor renewing the expired ones.

The ministry’s website has been running a one-line message: “As per directions of the Ministry of Interior, issuance of POC on the basis of spouse is no longer available”.

The facility has been withdrawn on the recommendations of sensitive security agencies.

The ban has made the lives of some 3,515 foreign spouses [holders of expired POCs] very difficult.

According to a document of the International Operations Department, the 3,515 foreign spouses hold moveable or immoveable properties in Pakistan and bank accounts under their names.

Due to the ban, they are now unable to sell their properties and operate bank accounts, and above all they have lost all the rights Pakistan guarantees to them under the POC.

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As a result, Pakistan has been denying them visa-free entry, indefinite stay in the country, exemption from foreigner registration requirements, permission to purchase or sell property and right to open and operate bank accounts.

In the document of the International Operations Department, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, now the Ministry of Interior has been told that these 3,515 foreign spouses are facing immense difficulties due to the expiry of their POCs and the question arises if they [holder of the expired POCs] can still hold their property and bank accounts under their names.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2017.

COMMENTS (17)

Asif | 4 years ago | Reply issue them POC they need it what other choice you have given them ?
Rizwan Farooqi | 4 years ago | Reply My wife and I are married for past 16 years and have 2 children are directly affected. I am an engineer and she is a chartered accountant. She was born in Nepal but we both got Canadian Citizenship later. Just after our marriage we learned about the POC and my wife applied. We continued to work overseas and in 2008 when my father had heart problems, she encouraged me for our entire family to move to Pakistan and we stayed there till 2010. By that time my father's health stabilized and then we moved again to Abu Dhabi. In 2009 she used her savings to buy a plot under her name so that we could build a home in Pakistan. We kept on traveling to Pakistan frequently from Abu Dhabi with children to see my parents. Last Eid ul Azha when we tried to renew her POC, it transpired that she could not get her POC card renewed due to the new policy. Government should earnestly look into this matter and re-institute the POC for foreign spouses.
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