ISLAMABAD: Fearing an adverse order of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), the country’s database authority has sought advice from the interior ministry about renewal of the identity document of an overseas Pakistani, who is blamed of anti-state activities by the country’s top spy agency.
Dr Shabir Choudhry – a British national of Kashmiri origin – applied for renewal of his National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (Nicop) on June 12, 2015 at the Pakistan High Commission in London.
The renewal process was, however, blocked by the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) after it received a letter from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) alleging that Choudhry is involved in anti-state activities sponsored by India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
Giving details of his activities, the spy agency had directed authorities concerned “not to facilitate the Nicop renewal process”. Later, in April 2016, Choudhry moved the IHC against the inordinate delay in renewal of his identity documents by Pakistan.
Last week, the interior ministry received a request from NADRA seeking guidance “for further necessary action as the court has given one week time [to it] to take up the matter with concerned.” The letter said: “An early response is needed to avoid any adverse order from the IHC.”
A senior official of the interior ministry said the ministry was looking into the matter and would respond soon. An interior ministry’s letter on the subject claimed that Choudhry’s Nicop had been blocked because he did not fulfill basic duty to be loyal to the state under Article 5 of the Constitution.
“The ISI has desired that he may not be facilitated in the process,” it said.
The country’s premier spy agency had details, already submitted to the IHC, that Choudhry “continuously disseminates subversive and hater material against Pakistan Army, ISI and other intelligence agencies through his contacts in Pakistan and abroad with the funding and support of RAW’.
It claimed that recently he had been tasked by RAW to increase his efforts for activating the local nationals of the Gilgit-Baltistan to rise against the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project by portraying it as damaging to the local population of the area.
“He attends seminars, conferences and meetings with foreign think tanks at international level on the direction of his handlers for unabated propaganda against Pakistan and its institutions. He also conducts TV programmes in UK against interests of state for which he is paid by RAW,” the ISI’s letter alleged.
To a question if NADRA could block the national identity document of an individual relying on a mere intelligence report, a senior NADRA officer wishing not to be named said it was a routine practice in NADRA given the database authority’s role of supporting institutions in countering anti-state activities.
“NADRA has its own Vigilance Directorate to report such matters but given its limited scope and expertise the database authority relies on the reports of intelligence agencies,” he added.