Friday June 14, 2024

Govt to tweak passport requirements for married, divorced women

DG passport also clarifies about contradictions in Nadra and passport policies about married women

By Web Desk
May 23, 2024
An undated photograph of the Pakistani passport. — X/@visafoto_com
An undated photograph of the Pakistani passport. — X/@visafoto_com

ISLAMABAD: As the controversy surrounding the passport-related conditions for women intensified, the Director General Immigration and Passports Mustafa Jamal Kazi Thursday said the government will address the issue through modifications.

In Geo News programme 'Geo Pakistan', the chief of the passport issuing authority — Directorate General Immigration and Passports — was questioned about the condition of married and divorced women being asked to mention their husband or ex-husband's name in their passports.

In response to the question, Kazi said modifications will be made in the passport and a box will be added for mentioning the name of the ex-husband for divorced women.

The DG passport also clarified about the discrepancy highlighted in the policies of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and passport issuing authority regarding married women.

The matter pertained to the condition of a "married woman's" passport bearing the name of her husband instead of the father — a move that has raised questions regarding the contradictions between the policies of two government institutions that possess data of citizens across the country as well as the policy's discrimination towards women.

'Geo Pakistan', a day earlier, hosted Khadija Bukhari, a lawyer and petitioner in a related case being heard at the Lahore High Court, who spoke about the issue that could cause inconvenience and distress for women who want to retain their father's name on their identification documents, regardless of whether they remain married or divorced.

Bukhari said she faced no issues when she had her Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) updated with Nadra after she was married, as she chose to retain her father's name and mention her marital status.

When she wanted her passport renewed with the same procedure, the authority's staff told her that mentioning her husband is a must and that she should also have a new CNIC made and then get the passport made.

The issue raised by Bukhari stirred a debate regarding women facing discrimination at the hands of government institutions, as even in the case of a divorce, the woman's identity will continue to be linked with her former husband without any acknowledgement of her will.

Kazi declined to comment on the specific case, terming it subjudice, but responded to the argument brought forward in the Geo News show.

Passport and Nadra's record is different, as latter's registration is local and will only be used in Pakistan, he said, adding that passport is used as an international document and is made according to international agreements.

"Normally, women face difficulty when they have their passport made using their father's name and the issue arises when they travel with their children. This makes it difficult to determine their biological relationship if the children's father is not travelling along," said the DG Passport.

In the last several years, the passport authority has faced litigations where a divorce is not formally declared, he said. Kazi maintained that according to the law, citizens must register and declare both Nikah and divorce.

However, issues arise when these developments are not officially registered and declared, which also raises issues regarding the custodianship of children.

"It is legal for a married woman to enter her husband's name along with her name in the passport," he said.

Committee formed to resolve passport issue for married, divorced women

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi also took notice and has formed a committee to resolve the matter with Interior Secretary Khurram Ali Agha appointed as its head.

Naqvi has directed the committee to review all the issues pertaining to the passport for women and devise a workable solution to address the matter.

Recommendations should be made keeping in mind the convenience and ease of married women, Naqvi ordered, adding that the ministry is working towards finding an immediate solution, as per the rules and regulations.