Keeping an eye: Anti-terror judge suggests stricter checks on cards for Afghan nationals

Laws should allow Pakistanis to challenge veracity of a CNIC.

Noorwali Shah July 18, 2014

PESHAWAR: An anti-terrorism court has suggested stronger checks and balances for Afghan nationals living in Pakistan, particularly at the time they are issued Proof of Registration (POR) cards. It even suggested that a law be introduced to allow Pakistanis to challenge the authenticity of CNICs.

The suggestion comes at a time when an Afghan court sentenced a Pakistani journalist to four years for travelling without valid documents.

Judge Syed Asghar Ali Shah was hearing a case against Zabeehullah, 22, an Afghan national suspected of kidnapping a person named Dr Intikhab Alam on October 7, 2010. The under-trial prisoner lived on Arbab Road in the city.

In his detailed order, the judge found that evidence against the suspect was insufficient. After the prosecution failed to prove charges under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946, the suspect was acquitted and the court ordered his release if there were no other cases against him.

The order noted that there was no record of the token issued by the Afghan Commissionerate and UNHCR, which Shah required to obtain a POR card.

Gangs have found sanctuaries and are able to commit crimes due to their hidden identifies, the court order said, adding that criminals can easily access tribal areas, other provinces, and even Afghanistan. It observed that these criminals are selling kidnapped people to one another like cattle.

NADRA Peshawar Assistant Director Sanaullah Khan recorded a statement before the court. He said Zabeehullah and his family, who were registered at the Shamshato camp, according to the UNHCR database, had been issued their POR cards in 2007.  “The registration was based on the record of the UNHCR and we did not register the Afghan national independently,” he said.

The court noted that discrepancies in the registration process have a direct impact on peace as certain anti-state elements could infiltrate the country by obtaining not only POR cards, but CNICs. It said that NADRA admitted releasing 100,000 cards to Afghan nationals based on fake documentation.

The judge recommended that a special government act be promulgated to empower Pakistani nationals to be able to challenge the authenticity of suspect non-national CNICs.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2014.