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Pakistan to Award Citizenship to Those Living in the Country for 7 Years

A policy is being made to award citizenship to foreigners who have been living in Pakistan for consecutive seven years.

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Chairman NADRA, Tariq Malik, has said that a policy is under formulation to grant citizenship to foreigners who have been living in Pakistan for seven years. He gave these remarks addressing the 8th annual National Data Privacy Conference organized by Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Chairman NADRA Tariq Malik further said that if any person has any interest in Pakistani citizenship, we will grant him citizenship, and the policy in this regard will come out soon.

Addressing the conference, the Chairman NADRA claimed that the data of NADRA is completely secure and to date, the data has not been hacked nor has a security breach taken place.

He added that there could be instances of data leakage, for which strict action is taken. Chairman NADRA said that a policy is being formulated to give citizens the right to check their data. He also said that citizens would be given the right to check whether a bank or FBR has checked their data in one year.

He further said that 40 million families have been asked to check their family data. Chairman NADRA said that the police and other agencies that take data from NADRA will be audited and no agency is allowed to store data from the NADRA database to their own. Mr. Malik highlighted the importance of a data protection law in Pakistan to ensure standardization of data privacy practices as an important part of the “social contract between citizens and the government”. He highlighted that sections 28 and 29 of the NADRA Act provide legal safeguards against privacy breaches and NADRA is moving towards anonymization of personal data.

Addressing the conference Minister for Human Rights, Shirin Mazari, said that the government is not taping the phones of any journalist, if it’s the case the journalists can go to the courts.

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Speaking on women’s rights, the Minister for Human Rights said that women have been made an easy target in society. Khawaja Asif targeted me for being a woman in the parliament and said obscene words about me but the women of PML-N did not even protest against his speech and other women parliamentarians did not stand up when a woman was targeted, she stated.

Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shirin Mazari further informed the conference that the ministry has worked on social media rules and without implementation, there is no benefit of any law because there is no benefit unless the mindset of the society is changed.

Commenting on child abuse, the minister remarked that child abuse starts from home, and changing the mindset of the society is a big challenge for the government.

The event started off with a keynote address from the Executive Director of DRF, Nighat Dad, who stated that “the right to privacy is a fundamental right, however, what that means in the digital age requires a detailed and nuanced discussion that includes all stakeholders–the state, businesses, civil society, and ordinary citizens.”

Minister Mazari stated that the “right to privacy is a fundamental human right, but the right needs to be balanced with other competing rights.”

She went on to say, “Privacy is even more important for women, just look at the Noor Muqadam case mainstream media aired footage that caused so much distress for her family. Newer amendments to violence against women laws now ensure privacy of the victim of violence to ensure their dignity.” Speaking separately on the Protection of Journalists & Media Professionals Bill, Ms. Mazari called it a “landmark achievement of our government, it has included inputs from all major journalist bodies and senior journalists.”

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The second half of the panel had Usama Khilji, Director at Bolo Bhi. Mr. Khilji stressed the importance of a strong commission for privacy, commenting, “We need a privacy commission that is independent of the proposed privacy commission that is separate from the government that can hold the state and powerful actors accountable.”

Bilal Abbasi, Director IT of the Ministry of IT and Technology, and Jehan Ara, Founder and CEO of Katalyst Labs, also spoke on the topics. Ms. Jahan Ara highlighted that “A strong personal data protection law needs to apply both to the public and private sector because public bodies hold large amounts of data on citizens.” Mr. Abassi said, “the Ministry has been working on the Personal Data Protection Bill since 2017, though the first draft was not as human rights friendly, the current version of the law reflects the international best practices such as the GDPR while taking into account Pakistan’s local context.”

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  • So Bangladeshi/ Afghan people living here for so many decades can expect grant of citizenship or is not applicable to them?

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