According to reports, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s (JUI-F) Hafiz Hamdullah has approached the Ministry of Interior for the restoration of his identity as a Pakistani. He reportedly informed Special Secretary Mian Waheedud Din about his CNIC’s cancellation. Political commentators think this move, cancellation of Mr. Hamdullah’s ID card, was ‘plain stupid’.
As per details, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Saturday directed all TV channels not to invite Hafiz Hamdullah on their programs, saying he was “not a Pakistani citizen”.
NADRA blocks JUI-F Hafiz Hamdullah's CNIC for being alien https://t.co/GkZYUL27N8 pic.twitter.com/BRtfaN6d3E
— Dunya News (@DunyaNews) October 26, 2019
In a communiqué sent to all satellite TV channels, the media watchdog had said that NADRA had conveyed that “Senator Hafiz Hamdullah Saboor is a ‘confirmed alien’ as he is not a citizen of Pakistan”.
It had further said NADRA has “cancelled and digitally impounded the CNIC (computerized national identity card) issued” to Hamdullah.
People are asking if the agencies in Pakistan are at their work since someone who managed to be a provincial minister and a part of Pakistan’s parliament did not belong to this country
“Since it is established that the said person is an ‘alien’, therefore, all the TV channels (News and Current Affairs) are directed to refrain from inviting and projecting Mr Hafiz Hamdullah Saboor in their programs/talk shows, news etc.,” the authority said in its letter.
It is important to note that Hafiz Hamdullah became health minister of Balochistan in 2002 after being elected to the provincial assembly on a Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) ticket in the general election. He kept the portfolio till 2005.
In his reaction, the JUI-F leader blamed state institutions for his ‘political victimization’ and said no one in his family, including his father, had ever been accused of being an alien. He said his father was an employee of the education department in 1974 and he had already provided documents to Nadra to prove it.
Mr. Hamdullah said he had provided several documents to Nadra including his father’s chequebook issued by the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in 1974. “I gave the municipality report related to my birth in Chaman, my father’s chequebook of the National Bank for the year 1974 as my father was an employee of the education department in 1974,” he explained, arguing, “What else should I present?”
Read more: NAB Cracking Down on JUI-F Leader in Case of Illegal Appointments in the PWD
Reactions on Social Media
The cancellation of the former senator’s CNIC has raised some serious questions. People are asking if the agencies in Pakistan are at their work since someone who managed to be a provincial minister and a part of Pakistan’s parliament did not belong to this country. Moreover, there is also the question that can a non-Pakistani appear on Pakistani TV channels and offer his analysis. What does the law say?
Some political commentators appreciated the decision and demanded the government to immediately handover Mr. Hamdullah to Afghanistan.
حافظ حمداللہ کی پاکستانی شہریت کینسل ہونے پر صرف اسکے میڈیا پر آنے پر پابندی نہ لگائی جائے بلکہ پہلی فرصت میں اسے طور خم کا بارڈر پار کروا کر افغانستان بھیجا جائے.. اور مولانا فضل الرحمن کے خلاف بھی مقدمہ درج کیا جائے کہ کیوں انہوں نے افغان شہری کو پارلیمنٹ میں پہنچایا
— Anwar Lodhi (@AnwarLodhi) October 27, 2019
Academics, journalists and rights activists criticized the decision and demanded immediate revocation of the same. Dr. Ammar Ali Jan tweeted:
This decision seems absurd, but it reflects thinking of those who rule us. They have never accepted any dissent as legitimate. Now the masks are coming off.
If citizenship is based on political views, then social contract b/w state and society is over.https://t.co/AlDRQW5klX
— Ammar Ali Jan (@ammaralijan) October 26, 2019
Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa also criticized the decision and said:
Revoking Hafiz Hamdullah’s nationality sets a new and dangerous trend. It’s not even a sudden development as authorities were already working to take away nationality of some people Hamdullah is a test case
— Ayesha Siddiqa (@iamthedrifter) October 27, 2019
Dr. Moeed Pirzada termed the decision as “plain stupid”.
I fully agree! Cancellation of Hafiz Hamdullah's CNIC looks plain stupid! https://t.co/7M9P2PscCs
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) October 27, 2019
Dr. Nida Kirmani of LUMS termed the move as “dangerous precedent”.
A very dangerous precedent. If they can strip his citizenship rights, they can do it to anyone. Regardless of how we feel about Hafiz Hamdullah's views, we must strongly oppose this fascistic move on the part of the government. https://t.co/C5IsmPK1kU
— Nida Kirmani (@NidaKirmani) October 27, 2019