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Pakistan nabs quartet of ex-NADRA officials for issuing fake biometric ID cards

Pakistan nabs quartet of ex-NADRA officials for issuing fake biometric ID cards

Former officers of Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) have been arrested and accused of selling fake computerized national ID cards (CNICs) to foreigners, says a report from Ary News.

The alleged crime took place between 2019 and 2020, and involved acquiring and registering the biometric data of Afghan laborers in exchange for what Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) calls “huge sums of money.” In a post on the social network X (formerly Twitter), the FIA confirmed the apprehension of four ex-NADRA officials.

The issuance of fake national ID cards has been enough of a problem to warrant a crackdown from the FIA and NADRA, which in November rescinded more than 18,000 illegal CNICs. In arresting the former NADRA officers, FIA’s Anti-Corruption Circle in Islamabad says it hopes to have hobbled at least one element of the fraud ecosystem contributing to the proliferation of fake CNICs.

However, there may be more calls coming from inside the house, so to speak: in October, incoming NADRA Chairman Muhammad Munir Afsar pointed fingers at NADRA staff for abetting the issuance of CNICs to non-citizens.

New fees and online applications for real biometric IDs

Another NADRA dispatch from Ary News reports that the authority has updated the renewal fee schedule for its chipped biometric national identity cards. A new CNIC now costs between PKR750 for “Normal” service and PKR2500 for “Executive” (roughly US$3-$9). Renewals and applications can be completed through the Pak-ID app, which NADRA launched in March 2023.

Family registration certificates, CNICs and National Identity Cards for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) are among documents users can now apply for through Pak-ID. The latest version of the app has a built-in document recognition system for upload and submission, fingerprint and selfie capture, contactless biometric verification and digital signature capability.

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