That Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan grossly underestimates public intelligence is more than obvious from what he had to say at his Friday’s media conference – the less said the better as to what makes him do that.
Embarrassed over the disclosure that the Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour killed in a US drone strike in Balochistan had held Pakistani Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) and passport, the minister acted as if it was all the fault of corrupt elements within the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).
He told journalists the episode involving misuse of Pakistan ID card by the Taliban leader sent the world the message that the country’s identity could be used by anyone and that is against this country’s “strategic, security and national interests.”
Lest anyone doubted his seriousness, he announced re-verification of CNICs of 25 million families is to be carried out within the next six months. He gave two months time to holders of fraudulently obtained cards to surrender them, saying “let’s not send the message … that Pakistani ID is easily available to anyone who is willing to pay for it. Being a responsible state, we will ensure that the use of CNIC by any alien is completely eliminated after this exercise.”
Many aliens, indeed, are said to have obtained Pakistani ID cards. It needs to be noted however that Nadra maintains separate data for Afghan refugees based on information provided by UNHCR.
Some of them living in this country for over two decades to escape an endless war at home and others born here may have obtained Pakistani ID cards, but that has nothing to do with the issue at hand.
Chaudhry Nisar cannot fool anyone into accepting as true that the Taliban leader got his ID card and passport through illegal means.
Those who he wants to give the message that Pakistani ID cards are not for sale have been well aware of the presence of senior Taliban leadership in Quetta, and even have had a name for them: Quetta Shura.
The Afghan Taliban, of course, would not have been living here without the knowledge of the Interior Minister.
Before speaking out, he should at least have known that Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz publicly offered the information at a recent event at the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington saying “we have some influence on them [the Taliban] because their leadership is in Pakistan, and they get some medical facilities, their families are here.”
It is hardly surprising if they also had travel facilitation. The re-verification exercise, a cumbersome task, would be useful considering that a large number of immigrants from other countries are reported to have acquired Pakistani ID cards.
There have been cases also of local people carrying more than one CNIC for deceitful purposes. That though is not going to make anyone believe what the Interior Minister wishes them to believe. In trying to stave off embarrassment he has only embarrassed himself.