ISLAMABAD-The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday issued notices to Secretary Interior, NADRA and Director General Immigration and Passport with a direction to file comments within a fortnight.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Ghulam Azam Qambrani conducted hearing of the petition of Fazal Haq, a Pakistani-born to Afghan refugee parents in Peshawar in 1998.

Haq filed the writ petition under Article 199 of Constitution through Advocate Umer Gilani and cited Chairman National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), Federal Government through Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary Ministry of Interior and Director General Immigration and Passports as respondents.

During the hearing, the counsel read out Section 4 of Citizenship Act, 1951. Justice Ghulam after hearing preliminary arguments issued notices to the respondents and deferred the proceedings of the case for two weeks.

The petitioner submitted that since his birth he lived, studied and worked all his life in Pakistan. He is a skilled gemstone trader who is contributing to Pakistan’s economy, especially its exports.

In his petition, he asserted that he is entitled to citizenship under Section 4 of the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951. This law, which was made by the founding fathers of Pakistan, confers citizenship upon all children born in Pakistan and does not discriminate between them on grounds of race, ethnicity or religion.

The petitioner also placed reliance upon speeches made in Parliament by Prime Minster Imran Khan on October 18, 2018 and by Minister of Human Rights on October 25, 2018, which created a legitimate expectation in the petitioner’s favour.

The counsel said that in 2019, the petitioner repeatedly approached NADRA officials in Islamabad to seek a National Identity Card. However, he was denied this on the grounds that his parents are Afghan refugees. He served legal notices upon NADRA reminding it about Pakistan’s non-discriminatory citizenship laws, but received no reply.

He stated that Haq was not only born in Pakistan but he has spent his entire life here. He has never even visited or seen Afghanistan. Pakistan is the only home he knows. All of his friends are from Pakistan. All his life, he has been paying indirect tax (sales tax on good, sales tax on services, customs and excise duties) to the state of Pakistan and he has always abided by Pakistani laws. He is as much as a citizen of Pakistan as anyone else born within the territorial confines of Pakistan.

He continued that because of not getting a CNIC, the petitioner is suffering on a daily basis. He is unable to set up a bank account.

He is unable to get a passport. He is unable to buy a motorbike in his own name. He is unable to get relevant business licenses which would allow him to run a business. As a result, he is condemned to living the life of a second-class citizen who can only work for others but not run an enterprise of his own.