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Judges, lawmakers to get arms licences

ISLAMABAD: Superior court judges, lawmakers and personnel of the armed forces will obtain arms licences under a new restrictive policy to be framed by the interior ministry.

This was decided at a meeting presided over by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan here on Wednesday.

“The arms licences policy should be strict so that a limited number of licences are issued in a controlled and transparent manner,” he told the meeting.

He said that a new policy should be prepared for issuance of arms licences in a phased manner.

Media houses and educational institutions, which have borne the brunt of terrorist attacks in the recent past and continue to remain under threat, will also be provided arms licences under the new policy.

The government had banned issuance of arms licences in June 2013 in a bid to invalidate illegally issued licences. The holders of arms licences had been asked to get them verified by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra). The government had announced that the licences not verified by Nadra till Dec 31, 2015 would be cancelled. But the date has been extended twice and will expire on Nov 30 this year.

A proposal for lifting the ban had been floated last year but it could not materialise and the ban still holds the field.

The meeting was informed that during Nadra’s ongoing computerised national identity cards (CNICs) verification campaign, 1,685 aliens have voluntarily returned the cards fraudulently obtained by them. They include 1,549 Afghan nationals, 44 Bangladeshis, one Indian and one Indonesian.

The interior minister also ordered legal and disciplinary proceedings against those Nadra officials who had wilfully included aliens in the authority’s database and also against the people who illegally possessed fake CNICs.

He also issued directives for speeding up action against some Nadra employees found involved in issuance of fake cards in multiple cases.

He said that there should be no slackness in the verification drive on the part of Nadra officials. He stressed that it was a matter linked with national security and, therefore, zero-tolerance policy should continue during the drive.

The meeting was informed that so far about 67.9 million CNICs had been verified by Nadra and over 48,000 intruders in different families had been identified.

Chaudhry Nisar appreciated the response of people since 92,300 people had called Nadra helpline for verification of their CNIC record and identification of aliens.

He approved a reward list of 45 people who have helped Nadra in identification of aliens. “The 45 devoted Pakistanis performed their national security duty and deserve cash rewards,” the minister said. The ministry will also give a letter of appreciation to the people.

The minister also accorded approval, in principle, to 50 international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) to operate in the country. Cases of 15 INGOs are under scrutiny by the ministry and once they are cleared, they will also be allowed to work in the country under the new policy.

The meeting was attended by Interior Secretary Arif Ahmad Khan, Special Interior Secretary Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, Nadra Chairman Usman Yousaf and senior officials of the ministry.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2016

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