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Pakistan secures family trees, IDs foreign residents, prepares for electronic voting

Pakistan secures family trees, IDs foreign residents, prepares for electronic voting

A series of developments in Pakistan span a new digital ID card verification system; a way for people to check if anyone is lurking in their family tree within the identity system; new ID for foreign residents in light of the number of refugees in the country; plans for the next election to be conducted electronically and permission for sandboxing to develop digital identity, KYC and AML.

New digital ID verification and secure family trees

The clampdown on fake digital ID continues. The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has launched a new system of verification and renewal for the national biometric ID cards known as computerized national identity cards (CNICs). The verification system will use artificial intelligence to detect a fake identity card, reports the Associated Press of Pakistan.

Pakistanis can now check government records of their family tree to see whether anyone has fraudulently joined it with fake ID. They simply send their CNIC number and issue date via SMS from their registered mobile phones to 8900 and will receive all the details of their family tree.

Tariq Malik recently returned to position of chairman of NADRA after his role as chief technical advisor to the UNDP. A three-year term has recently been confirmed.

One of Malik’s first moves was to dismiss 47 NADRA staff who had been found issuing or unblocking fraudulent digital ID cards.

Electronic voting for ‘elections of the 21st Century’

Pakistan’s next elections look on track to be held with electronic voting. Prime Minister Imran Khan is quoted by The News International as addressing a meeting of NADRA, the Ministry of Finance and State Bank of Pakistan with:

“I think the solution to all the frauds that take place in the society and in the elections is technology. By using both data and technology, we will hold an election for the first time in Pakistan, the results of which will be accepted by all.”

Prime Minister Khan pins his hopes on NADRA handling the technology and recently visited the headquarters to inaugurate its new mobile registration van project.

“As soon as the electronic voting machines came along with the NADRA tele-data, we will hold elections of the 21st century.”

Alien ID cards to create ‘non-citizens’, bring refugees into the mainstream

The Prime Minister has visited the National Data Warehouse and Operations room where he said there are at least 3.3 million Afghan refugees with many more unregistered. Recent figures suggest 1.4 million plus Bengali, Nepali and Rohingya immigrants and refugees.

Khan said that alien registration cards issued by NADRA will allow refugees to become “non-citizens” and access services: “With the help of this card, they will be able to do business, keep money in banks, become part of the economy and avoid illegal activities”.

Announced in May as an agreement between Pakistan’s Ministry of State & Frontier Regions (SAFRON) and the UNHCR, the Proof of Registration biometric smartcards should allow holders access to services and banking.

The subsequent fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban could potentially mean more Afghan refugees crossing the border into Pakistan. Yet a border fence and crossing points now manned by armed Taliban members is resulting in far fewer border crossings than normal and far fewer refugees, reports the BBC.

In May 2021 authorities made national digital ID a requirement for receiving a COVID vaccination, potentially baring three million refugees.

Digital ID, fintech regulatory sandbox approved

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has granted approval for the development and live testing of products spanning digital identity, AML, KYC and centralized KYC via a second cohort of regulatory sandboxing, reports The Nation.

Applications were received for a wide range of approaches and technologies including artificial intelligence, machine learning, security token offerings, blockchain and distributed ledgers. The overall aim is to kickstart a fintech revolution in the country.

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