National Identity Cards (NICs), including a description of the card, the significance of half-moon punched holes, and the procedures for obtaining revised and replacement NICs [PAK100135.E]

Description of National Identity Cards (NICs), Including Punched Holes

Privacy International, the London-based organization, reported in 1996 that the Pakistan National Identity Card (NIC) "carries a large amount of data, including photograph, signature, card serial number, government official's signature, Date of issue, DRO/Post office number, ID Card number, name, father's name, Temporary Address, Permanent Address, identification marks, and date of birth" (24 Aug. 1996).

According to information provided by the Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control (Interior Division) on 6 April 2001, the numbers and/or letters that appear below and to the left of the Pakistani national seal on an NIC is the "Sr. No. of printing of NIC." The 4th and 5th digits indicate the year of birth of the bearer (Pakistan 6 Apr. 2001). However, on cards issued from 1 January 1985 to 28 February 1994, the 4th and 5th digits indicated the year of issuance of the card (ibid.).

In correspondence dated 18 February 2000, the First Secretary (Consular) of the High Commission for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Ottawa indicated the following:

At the time of every General Election and even when a by-election is held in a constituency, the Election Commission of Pakistan issues directions to the District Returning Officers, Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers, about the procedure to be adopted during the polling process. They are, inter-alia, exactly told that at which place the Assistant Presiding Officer or Polling Officer would punch the NIC of a voter. For example, in respect of general elections to the National Assembly in 1988 the NIC of the voter was punched in the right hand top corner (with a half moon shaped hole) facing photograph and signature of the card holder; in 1990 general elections the NIC of the voter was punched in the right bottom corner with half moon shaped hole; in general elections of 1993 a hole was pricked in the NIC of the voter in the middle of the extreme right side facing photograph and signature and in 1997 general elections a hole was pricked just below the monogram and in case of computerized NIC a hole was pricked in the upper corner of extreme right, facing photograph. Therefore, it can easily be determined that in which election the voter has voted.

According to 12 July 1999 correspondence from the First Secretary (Consular) of the High Commission for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Ottawa,

[t]he round hole that is punched out of the National Identity Card (NIC) signifies that the bearer of the NIC has been issued a passport whereas the half-moon hole signifies that the individual voted in the last general election of the country. These holes have no other significance.
NICs first began to have holes punched out of them almost ten years ago.
The authority to punch holes lies with the issuing office of NIC in the case of the bearer already holding a passport; in the case of the passport being issued at a later date, the passport-issuing office is authorized to punch the hole [in the NIC] at the time the passport is issued.

In October 2002, the new computerized national identity card (CNIC) introduced by the government, was described by The New York Times as "a space-age miracle crafted of fatigue-resistant green Teslin, embossed with anticounterfeit microprinting and a hologram and striped with a magnetic tape encoded with everything from the bearer's name to his or her thumbprint" (10 Oct. 2002).

An official of the High Commission of Pakistan in Ottawa stated during a 7 January 2003 telephone interview that the new NIC was implemented in September 2002. The new card is a modern, forgery-proof, plastic card that differs in many ways from the old National Identity Card (NIC) (High Commission of Pakistan 7 Jan. 2003). All replacements or duplicates of a lost or stolen NIC are issued in the form of the new NIC (ibid.). Information related to the new NIC is computerized; the new cards do not show whether a person has been issued a passport, and they do not have holes punched in them to indicate participation in a voting process (ibid.). Older replacement or duplicate NICs would have had essentially the same features as those they replaced, and could have shown whether a person was issued a passport under the replaced card (ibid.). Holes punched on a card during an election are not likely to have been reproduced on a replacement or duplicate, since the holes would have been punched by voting authorities at the time of voting (ibid.).

Procedures for Obtaining Revised and Replacement/Duplicate NICs

In 6 April 2001 correspondence to the Research Directorate, the Pakistani Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control (Interior Division) indicated that "a revised identity card is issued on report of [a] change of any particular by surrendering previous NIC, whereas duplicate NIC is issued in lieu of lost identity card with the same particulars." The Ministry added that although revised and duplicated, NICs normally bear the same identity numbers as the original cards they are revising or duplicating (Pakistan 6 Apr. 2001). Further, "when a woman is married to a resident of another Registration Zone, her previous registration is cancelled and she is allotted a new citizen code number of the zone where she has shifted after her marriage" (ibid.).

In 25 May 2000 correspondence to the Research Directorate, the First Secretary (Consular) of the High Commission for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Ottawa indicated that to obtain a replacement NIC an individual was required to do the following:

a) Duplicate, triplicate and quadruplicate identity cards [are] issued to the applicant on the basis of form RG-1 duly filled in along with an affidavit and attested by the authorized person. The identity card is delivered to the applicant in person.
b) It is clarified that the National Identity Card of the male applicant is delivered in person and for the female applicant it can be delivered to a person authorized by her in writing.

In April 2001, the Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control (Interior Division) indicated that to obtain a revised or duplicate NIC, in addition to a completed application for a revised or duplicate NIC, the applicant may be also be requested to submit the following: "a) School Certificate; b) Domicile Certificate; c) Birth Certificate issued by Local Bodies; d) Age Certificate issued by Civil Surgeon; e) FIR [First Information Report: a police report] of [the] loss of [an] NIC" (Pakistan 6 Apr. 2001).

With respect to the procedures for filling out an NIC application, the following information was posted on a Pakistan government Website:

[a]pplication for registration and issuance of National Identity Card under National Registration Act 1973 is to be submitted on form RG-1 which is available from all branches of Pakistan Post Offices at the rate of Rs.3/- per form (Pakistan 29 Jan. 2001).

The application must be attested, and the following information on attestation of the document is provided on the same Website:

For the convenience of general public a sufficiently enough number of persons belonging to all walks of life, have been authorised to attest Registration Forms. These include the members of the Senate, the National Assembly, a Provincial Assembly, a Local Body or a Zakat Committee. All officers of the Federal and Provincial Governments in Grade- 16 and above can also attest the Registration Forms. Complete list of authorised attestors is printed at page No.3 of Form RG-1 (ibid.).

The Pakistan government Website indicated that a prepared NIC did not have to be picked up by the person who applied for it: "[a]ny bonafide family member can receive prepared National Identity Cards of his family on written authorisation from them" (ibid.).

In August 2001, Dawn, the Karachi-based, independent daily newspaper, reported that NADRA had issued instructions on how to file CNIC forms (5 Aug. 2001). That article is attached to this response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Dawn [Karachi]. 5 August 2001. "Nadra Issues Instructions on Filling in CNIC Forms." (Google Cache) http://www.dawn.ccom/2001/08/05/nat8.htm [Accessed 12 May 2005]

High Commission of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Ottawa. 7 January 2003. Telephone interview.

_____. 25 May 2000. Correspondence from the Pakistani government in Islamabad, forwarded to the Research Directorate by the First Secretary (Consular).

_____. 18 February 2000. Correspondence from the First Secretary (Consular).

_____. 12 July 1999. Correspondence from the First Secretary (Consular).

The New York Times. 10 October 2002. Michael Wines. "Islamabad Journal; Sometimes in Pakistan It's One Voter, 2 ID Cards." (NEXIS)

Pakistan, Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control. 6 April 2001. Interior Division. Correspondence from the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) forwarded to the Research Directorate.

_____. 29 January 2001. Directorate-General of Registration. 29 January 2001. "Frequently Asked Questions." [Accessed 8 Oct. 2002]

Privacy International, London. 24 August 1996. "Identity Cards." [Accessed 19 May 2005]


Dawn [Karachi]. 5 August 2001. "Nadra Issues Instructions on Filling in CNIC Forms." (Google Cache) http://www.dawn.ccom/2001/08/05/nat8.htm [Accessed 12 May 2005]

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