No political bias in issuance of CNICs: NADRA

Karachi: National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) has categorically denied any political bias affecting its processes of computerized national identity card (CNIC) issuance.

All standard operating procedures for such processes are clearly defined and they leave absolutely no room for any discrepancies whatsoever, NADRA spokesperson said this in a statement issued here Thursday refuting the impression appeared in section of press.

She added that NADRA, throughout its history, has followed strict standard operating procedures regarding issuance of all types of identity documents. These procedures have been set to ensure 100% accuracy in the registration process in order to avoid any identity theft or fraud. The authority takes pride in noting that these SOPs are applied to all Pakistani nationals regardless of their social or political standing. The rules set out for the registration, of any sort, at NADRA are so streamlined that they do not allow for intervention within the process by any external party. The process at all NADRA NRCs, throughout the country, is unanimous and the NADRA staff adheres to a stringent code of conduct, all this is facilitated by state of the art technology which ensure full security and demands full accuracy of all data.

She further said no citizen of the state can get his or hers Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) made or renewed without being physically present at any of NADRA’s registration centers. During the process of data acquisition for renewals, a fresh photograph of the applicant is captured along with fingerprints of both hands. These are then matched with all the details that were held previously at NADRA’s biometric-based database to remove any doubt regarding the identity of the individual. Hence, it is practically impossible to obtain a reprint of CNIC in absence of CNIC holder.

Moreover, the applicant is issued the same 13 digit CNIC number as was assigned earlier. Not to mention that all other particulars remaining the same, ensuring no added benefit can be obtained with these reprinted (duplicate) cards.

NADRA is operating at Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) level – 3 which is an International standard and heavily relies on processes where decisions are taken by technical systems rather individuals regardless of their position and authority. NADRA management looks after policy matters in consultation with NADRA Authority Board which comprises of professionals chosen from all walks of life. Chairman NADRA is one among ten members of NADRA Authority Board. Strengths of NADRA database are time tested and its unbiased approach has been demonstrated in multiple national level programs.

She said it is pertinent to mention here that a CNIC can only appear once on an electoral roll. This is only the first time in electoral rolls history that no multiple entries were found. Previously, it was a common phenomenon that individuals were found registered in electoral rolls a multiple number of times. In some cases, the number was even as high as 20. Using NADRA database, uniqueness of identity is ensured and objective of “One CNIC, One Vote” has been successfully achieved.

NADRA has strived tirelessly for electoral reforms and believes in assisting Election Commission of Pakistan for conducting fair, free and transparent election. For this purpose, NADRA has provided all possible assistance to ECP for their initiatives to bring transparency in electoral affairs. This includes identification of multiple votes in previous electoral rolls as well as ensuring uniqueness of voter registration in recently published Final Electoral Rolls – 2012. NADRA through its database has helped ECP discard 3.7 million unverified entries in voters list used in 2002, 2008 Election. NADRA is also assisting ECP in printing Electoral Rolls containing photographs of each individual, to be used in upcoming general elections. Another initiative that was taken by ECP was to provide access to Electoral Rolls through SMS, yet another service developed and implemented by NADRA.

Above all, NADRA is providing fingerprint matching services to ECP. In this initiative, ECP will take thumbprints of voters on electoral rolls before ballot paper issuance. These fingerprints will be provided to NADRA in case directed by ECP or Election Tribunals. NADRA will match fingerprints available on electoral rolls with biometric data held in its database against respective CNIC to prove that ballot paper was issued to same individual or otherwise. Simultaneously, NADRA will also provide list of individuals who obtained multiple ballot papers on basis of fingerprint matching. These exercises will be conducted on electoral rolls which do not carry political affiliations on voter. This will enable ECP and Election Tribunals to take informed decisions.

NADRA is among those institutions of the country that are performing their duties according to the book of law. It does not obstruct its functionalities due to predisposition towards any cast, creed or political affiliations. Such institutions should be encouraged rather than being defaced by in factual public discourse.