Pakistani women seeking POCs for their Afghan spouses

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PESHAWAR: Accepting 109 petitions of Pakistani women seeking Pakistan Origin Cards (POCs) for their Afghan spouses, the Peshawar High Court on Friday ordered the federal government to proceed with their cases in accordance with prescribed rules.

A bench consisting of Justice Syed Arshad Ali and Justice Wiqar Ahmad heard arguments by lawyers appearing for the petitioners, federal government and the National Database and Registration Authority before directing the centre to issue POCs to the spouses of petitioners provided they fulfilled the required criterion.

The detailed judgement will be released later.

Advocates Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel, Nouman Muhib Kakakhel, Mohammad Suhaib Malik and other lawyers appeared for the petitioners, whereas additional attorney general Sanaullah Khan and Shahid Imran Gigyani represented the federal government and Nadra, respectively.

Mr Saifullah Muhib argued that Nadra Ordinance read with Nadra (POC) Rules 2002 provided for grant of POCs to spouses of Pakistani citizens, hence Afghan husbands of Pakistani women were entitled to it as well as visa-free entry and other rights as a citizen of Pakistan except for casting vote and a Pakistani passport.

He said non-grant of POC to the Afghan husbands of Pakistani women is violative of their fundamental rights. He argued that it was nowhere mentioned in the rules that an Afghan refugee was not a foreigner and therefore, he or she was not entitled to the provision of POC.

He contended that while petitioners fulfilled all the requirements, the government had been denying issuance of POCs to their spouses.

Section 10 of the Citizenship Act provides for provision of Pakistani citizenship to the foreigner wife of a Pakistani husband but not vice versa.

AAG Khan and lawyer Gigyani informed the court that the petitioners had been seeking POCs for their Afghan spouses, who either possessed POR (Proof of Registration) cards or ACC (Afghan Citizenship Cards).

They contended that as the spouses were Afghan refugees they were not included in the definition of a foreigner, so they were not entitled to POCs.

They stated that one of the conditions required for a foreign applicant was that he should have passport of his native country, whereas in present cases these spouses did not have that document.

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