Apropos to the Opinion “NADRA’s algebra” authored by Zubeida Mustafa in Dawn on Jan 28, 2022, NADRA Spokesperson intends to clarify that the author has misconstrued the role of NADRA which primarily registers the people of Pakistan.
In Pakistan, the Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) reflects the synergy effect in which various identification functions concentrate into a single document and most public services route through the national identity card number. This function of CNIC authenticates that the public services are rendered to the right person. In the same manner, the voter lists are prepared underpinning one person, one identity and one vote. NADRA has always strived towards inclusive registration with its core tenet as ‘empowerment through legal identity’.
With regards to unvaccinated people, the governance, strategy, and operational control are with Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (MONHSR&C) and National Command & Operation Centre (NCOC). It is the stated policy of NCOC to vaccinate people without CNIC across the country only with a condition that they get themselves registered with NADRA for availing other public services. So far approximately 1.5 million unregistered persons (without CNICs) have been vaccinated across the country. NADRA is only the implementation partner responsible for maintaining a transparent database of vaccinated individuals.
The National Immunization Management System (NIMS) developed by NADRA, is a robust and scalable solution that is integrated with all concerned stakeholders i.e. Ministry of Health, National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA), Federal Extended Program on Immunization (EPI), and all Telecommunication operators of the country. The system is National ID card (NIC) centric and carries out real-time validation of NIC for registration, scheduling and vaccine administration along with certificate issuance, validation and dynamic dashboards for informed decision making of the policymakers. The system also has the capacity to carry out online/real time verification of issued certificates using the NIMS database.
At the outset of vaccine supply that was scarce initially, Government of Pakistan desired to initiate vaccination process for the most vulnerable people in advanced age-brackets, CNIC database was used to identify vulnerable people like that of author of the opinion herself via age-brackets as per demographics. Citizens were provided a fool proof and easy to use SMS as well as web based system for registration, identification of eligibility as per vulnerable groups and subsequent scheduling on a particular Vaccine Centre for vaccine administration.
It is pertinent to mention that during the early days of COVID-19, MONHSR&C and NCOC mandated NADRA to design, develop, and host a digital system for vaccine administration. After detailed deliberations with all stakeholders, National Immunization Management System (NIMS) was envisaged to consolidate all immunization activities that are being carried out in the country, on a single intelligent platform. Pakistan is one of the countries that have managed a seamless COVID-19 vaccination administration and so far more than 174 million dozes have been administered using NIMS. Digital system ensures transparency, audit trail and real-time information accessibility.
Moreover with regard to the registration of vital events such as birth, death, marriage and divorce, the registration of such events is exclusively the domain of Union Councils (UC), Cantonment Boards and other local government bodies of respective provinces. As some births in the country are not registered in UCs, some Pakistanis do not conduct any of the activities described above; thus a few do not have CNICs. Despite being outside its mandate, NADRA has always extended its full technical support to Local government in Civil registration systems and currently we are in the process of implementing a wholesome technical solution to integrate Civil registration and vital statistics data from all local governments.
NADRA has specifically focused on the unregistered individuals by creating a dedicated Inclusive Registration Department (IRD) that strategically devises means to enhance registration, especially for women, minorities, transgender and unregistered persons.
In this regard, NADRA specifically targeted 80 districts with a gender gap of more than 10% in registration figures. In 2021, more than 3.2 million women were registered with NADRA. Our evidence-based strategy paid off and in the last few months, and we have successfully reduced the gender gap by 40% in these targeted districts. NADRA opened 18 x Female Only NADRA centres, predominantly in KP to overcome the socio-cultural barriers of women hesitating to deal with male staff. At our centres, priority handling and ‘queue jump’ is given to senior citizens and disabled persons and recently, we have set up dedicated desks for transgender registrations.
Pakistan is the only country in the world where the state brings its ID services to the doorsteps of the citizen through an online platform (id.nadra.gov.pk) that is open to all resident and Overseas Pakistanis, so that they can avail an ID from the convenience of their homes. Furthermore, 262 Mobile Registration Vans (MRVs) and 80 Person pack units have been deployed countrywide that reach out to people living in remote areas or senior citizens who may not be able to travel to the nearest NRC.
As of January 2022, 120 million people i.e 96% of adult population (above 18) possess CNICs. As per the population figures of the previous census (2017), NADRA has provided CNIC to 65,908,886 (99% coverage) persons in Punjab, 25,686,818 (96%) persons in Sindh, 17,861,972 (98%) persons in KPK and FATA and 4,933,366 (83%) persons in Baluchistan
NADRA has developed an infrastructure that allows maximum accessibility. There are 700+ NRCs operating country wide and in all 154 districts of Pakistan. In 2021, NADRA opened 66 new tehsil-level NRCs and a total of 517 tehsils have a NADRA registration centre. By June 2022, NADRA Registration Centres will be present in all tehsils of the country.
NADRA has always strived towards strengthening the social contract, inclusive registration practices and maintaining a transparent, yet secure database of the people. Only when the state is able to count on its citizens, it is able to roll out public services and identity is the first and fundamental step towards this. NADRA has proudly partnered with multiple public and private sector entities, to enable an ID centric ecosystem around which a number of digital public goods are rolled out for the betterment and convenience of citizens.