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ISLAMABAD: Chairman National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Tariq Malik Wednesday said one billion people worldwide do not have basic identity documents, while, in Pakistan NADRA follows the strategy of ‘leave no one behind’ to ensure that every citizen is registered in the national database.

“While working at international institutions, I learnt that one billion people worldwide do not have basic identity documents. Nearly one-in-two women in low-income countries do not have their country’s national ID or similar foundational documents, limiting to critical services and participation in formal political and economic life,” he said, speaking at the launch of phase-4 of Female NIC/Voter Registration Campaign at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

“It is hence my goal to achieve universal coverage in Pakistan underpinning my strategy of ‘leave no one behind’,” he said.

He said NADRA was ready to support ECP under Article 220 of the Constitution of Pakistan— and use digital technology to develop a transparent electoral mechanism sans any duplication, inclusion and exclusion errors.

“We will use our infrastructure to outreach women, vulnerable communities and minorities. We have embarked on an elaborate registration campaign in reaching out the complete strata to achieve universal coverage in Pakistan…” the chairman said.

NADRA was continuously striving to remain ahead in registering a population that was increasing at the rate of more than two percent annually, Malik said.

At present, NADRA was operating more than 688 registration centres besides 263 mobile units and 10 overseas centres, he mentioned. PAK ID online services were also available in more than 190 countries, thus helping Pakistani diaspora in registration worldwide, the chairman NADRA said.

Malik said NADRA’s outreach was in all 154 districts and it planned to increase its presence to all 543 tehsils of the country. “On assuming charge as chairman NADRA, I ordered opening of 66 new tehsils centres immediately on August 14, this year,” Malik said.

NADRA, he said, was processing approximately 80,000 to 100,000 registrations daily.

Malik cited NADRA’s registration statistics which revealed that around 80 districts of the country had 10 percent or more gender gap with maximum 52 percent in Bannu. NADRA was taking proactive measures to bridge that gap, he added.

First time registration in NADRA was free of cost for all citizens, he said.

Earlier, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja launched the registration campaign.

The ECP is committed to provide equal opportunity to every segment of the society and trying to make electoral process more inclusive, he stated. “Today’s ceremony is the proof that the ECP is working very hard to enhance the political empowerment of women,” the CEC added.

Raja appreciated the role of NADRA, ECP’s development partners, civil society and media for assisting the ECP in its efforts to increase female Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) and voter registration and to mitigate the gender gap in voter lists.

Secretary ECP Dr Akhtar Nazir said the ECP’s efforts to bridge gender gap in voter lists were in line with its Third Strategic Plan (2019-2023).

Additional Director General Gender Affairs Nighat Siddique said ECP-NADRA joint Female NIC/Voter Registration campaign was launched in 2017. Fourth phase of that campaign was the continuation of ECP’s efforts to mitigate the gender gap in the voter lists, she added.

In comparison to the voter lists published in October 2020, the gender gap had further gone down from 12.41 million to 12.37 percent in the voter lists published in April 2021, she said.

Senior officials from ECP, NADRA and civil society attended the event.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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