In 2000, a new citizen registration system was introduced in Pakistan. The new process was handled by a new authority named NADRA. This came as a breath of fresh air, modernization of the most basic of needs of any citizen: their National Identity Card. Our old system was severely outdated, with no readable or computerized biometric record and I am not sure even if it was centralized. The new system, no doubt, sorted a lot of data maintenance issues.

But, as one of the most civilly “responsible” nation that we are, I am sure we still have citizens out there who have yet to get their new ID cards. Although, all of our legal documentation requires the NADRA ids, but still.

The process for getting a CNIC is relatively easy. A one stop shop, if I may be allowed to say so, can provide you with your identity paper in a few days.

A couple of months back, my mother’s CNIC expired and we had to get it renewed. She was avoiding it as she didn’t want to wait in long ques. Believing in the new digitalized process I motivated her to go with me on Friday a day NADRA has specified for female registration only. But I must admit even after giving her a good dose of motivation I myself was curious on the process and if it would make my mother wait for so long. So I consulted our best friend for research- Google on how to get a CNIC.

The process according to the NADRA web site ( is as follows:

· Data Acquisition at Data Acquisition Unit (DAU)

Issuance of Token
Photo Capturing
Thumb and Signatures
Data Acquisition by DEO
Form Printing
Attestation & Form Submission
· Data uploading to NADRA Data Warehouse

· Verification and Clearance from NADRA Data Warehouse

· Printing at Production

· Delivery of CNIC to NSRC

Seemed simple enough and to an extent relieved me also. With a time investment of an hour give or take, I took my mother to the female NADRA centre for CNIC renewal.

But minutes after reaching the centre I realized that the website failed to mention, that the authority, being the flag bearer of the same slow paced system of our country, will make you wait for hours, with no proper seating or water or toilet arrangements in their offices.

Being the capitalist society that we are, your anguish of waiting in long queues, is shortened if you pay more. The value of your time is directly proportional to the amount of money you can dole out.

I fail to understand that even after “paying” why one does has to pay. Be it the lines at tax office when filing returns, be it while paying the utility bills, be it when one wants to get petrol or gas tank filled, be it when one has to get a passport or for the matter of this discussion a CNIC. How any “efficient” system manages to do that, I am always baffled. It must take a lot of planning and hard work!

But in case of Pakistan in particular there is one thing in the process I cannot understand- the attestation of documents. I mean NADRA has all the record in one place at the finger tips but will send us to get it attested from a 17 grade officer, whom in most of the cases will have no idea who we are. And the same drill is to be repeated for renewal.

NADRA was formed with the mission to facilitate people, make them feel valued and cared for. To an extent it did serve the purpose, but majorly some loopholes exist.

What is a relief for me is that my mother got her CNIC and I am sure the next time she will have to get it, it would not take much of an effort convincing her. All I wish that next time she doesn’t have to wait for so long and give the data that NADRA already has.

P.S. A note for all you readers is visit NADRA’s website, learn the process, make sure you all have your CNICs, share your opinion to make the process efficient and don’t lose hope!

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