Afghan family disputes cancellation of CNICs

LAHORE: An Afghan family knocked on the doors of the Lahore High Court and asked under which law NADRA cancelled their CNICs, despite the fact that they had been Pakistani citizens for many years.

“The family is being humiliated as they are Afghans,” their counsel, Advocate Chaudhry Shoaib Saleem, told the court.

He argued that Darya Khan, Multan Khan, Dawood Khan and their mother Bilquees Bibi had been residing in Pakistan since its existence. All family members had passports, CNICs and domiciles since 1994.

He added that regardless of the situation, NADRA passed an impugned order on January 29, 2018, and cancelled their CNICs. He contended that the respondent, NADRA, did not disclose any substantial grounds for the action.

He said it was also astonishing that NADRA refused to issue the CNIC of the mother and that was the reason a suit for declaration was filed against NADRA. The authority lost the legal battle and finally had to issue the CNIC to their mother.

Justice Shahid Waheed of the lahore High Court asked how NADRA could cancel the CNIC when the court had ordered its issuance. The opposing counsel argued that perhaps NADRA issued the CNIC under pressure from the court.

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Justice Waheed further asked whether NADRA had conducted an inquiry at that time the CNIC was issued to the petitioner’s mother. The counsel for NADRA replied that an inquiry had not been held, but there were meeting minutes which could be produced before the court. The judge finally directed NADRA’s counsel to present the meeting minutes by October 2.

NADRA disclosed that it cancelled the CNICs in light of an intelligence report prepared on Afghani nationals. The petitioner’s counsel submitted that under the Citizenship Act 1951, it was not NADRA’s prerogative to deprive any citizen of citizenship by cancelling CNICs. He said this authority was afforded to the federal government under Section 16 of the same act.

On the other hand, NADRA mentioned that the CNICs of the petitioners have been cancelled by the authority under Section 18 of the NADRA Ordinance 2000. The reason was that the intelligence bureau has declared the petitioners as Afghan nationals.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2019.

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