Pakistan has always struggled with and mismanaged the number of foreigners and illegal migrants in the country. There have been reports that millions of illegal migrants including Afghan refugees have been issued identity cards while several others living for decades have no proof of registration.
The prime minister has launched the Alien Registration Card and work permit for foreigners to bring them into social and financial mainstream. This is indeed a great step so that foreigners can contribute to the economy and run their businesses in a legal manner. They can now get admission in private schools, open bank accounts, register vehicles, get jobs, and even buy mobile SIMs, utility connections and other purchases just like other citizens.
Pakistan has over three million registered Afghan refugees while there are numerous illegal migrants. Many communities such as Bengalis and Biharis have been settled for several decades with no proof of registration. They are unable to secure jobs, open businesses or send their children to school and ended up being marginalized. The government’s step would help to make them productive members of society. It is also essential to provide basic rights such as health, education and course to justice for all residents.
The government should, however, ensure that any discrepancies do not lead to the issuance of fake identity cards. Last month, lawmakers were baffled over claims by the FIA that four million fake CNICs have been issued. The reports of corruption in NADRA are not new but the veracity of the figures was questioned by parliamentarians. There have been allegations that terrorists received CNICs in exchange for bribes or monetary gains. It is deeply troubling to know that institutions tasked with securing our data are issuing fake CNICs to militants and proscribed outfits.
NADRA has now developed a system based on artificial intelligence to curb fake identity cards. It has recently fired 47 employees for issuing fake identity cards and is undergoing reforms. The government should show zero-tolerance policy for unscrupulous elements involving in such activities. We need a better system to manage the foreigners, illegal migrants, and even citizens in the country.