Fake Afghan refugees

Published: February 10, 2019
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Resourceful might be a term often used to describe some Pakistanis who are forced to survive and navigate without much of a system to follow with regard to education, lack of opportunity, and being able to earn a decent living for themselves. In actuality, however, much of that desperation has led to corruption at the grassroots level with similar examples being set by past leaderships. The finding by NADRA that 10,000 Pakistanis falsely described themselves as Afghan refugees in order to receive a $400 handout by the UN under its Afghan repatriation scheme is embarrassing. That the identity fraud was caught by NADRA is impressive, but the gross number of Pakistanis who came close to misusing the scheme indicates NADRA needs to continue significantly improving its system beyond mere streamlining.

Fact remains that with NDRA approval stamp, terrorist and extremist individuals have been facilitated in acquiring Pakistani residency and citizenship. We cannot afford to allow risky undertakings such as the responsibility of housing former terrorists. While provisions for adoption, marriage and guardianship should exist within the national database registry, family trees provided by applicants must be reviewed stringently. It is a serious issue that 156,000 cases have been labelled suspicious. Upon finding of the first such case, immediate revision was required in a practically feasible manner.

Consequences should be handed to individuals who seek to commit identity fraud. Due to the backlog in identifying citizens, residents and refugees and inputting their information into the national database, NADRA requires the help of law-enforcement agencies who should be able to take suspicious persons into custody for brief holding until their data is verified. Until then, misuse of financial schemes will likely continue and the current state of affairs will likely remain unmanaged. 

Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2019.

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