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Vital changes to be made in the passports of married women: DGIP Kazi

ISLAMABAD: Director General of Immigration and Passports, Mustafa Jamal Kazi, clarified the directorate’s stance regarding the discrepancy between the policies of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and the passport issuing authority concerning married women.

The issue pertains to the requirement for a “married woman’s” passport to bear her husband’s name instead of her father’s, raising questions about contradictions between the policies of these two government institutions and their potential discrimination against women.

Khadija Bukhari, a lawyer and petitioner in a case being heard at the Lahore High Court discussed the potential inconvenience and distress for women who wish to retain their father’s name on their identification documents, regardless of their marital status.

Bukhari mentioned that she faced no issues updating her Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) with Nadra after her marriage, as she chose to retain her father’s name and mention her marital status.

However, when she sought to renew her passport, the staff informed her that it was mandatory to include her husband’s name and suggested she obtain a new CNIC to match the passport requirements.

This issue has sparked a debate about the discrimination women face from government institutions, as divorced women would still have their identity linked to their former husband without acknowledging their choice.

While Kazi declined to comment on the specific case, he explained that Nadra’s records are local and used only within Pakistan, while passports are international documents subject to international agreements.

“Women often face difficulties when their passport bears their father’s name, particularly when traveling with their children. It becomes challenging to establish their biological relationship if the children’s father is not present,” said Kazi.

The passport authority has encountered litigations over the years when divorces are not formally declared. Kazi emphasized the legal requirement for citizens to register and declare both marriage (Nikah) and divorce to prevent such issues, which also affect custodianship of children.

“It is legal for a married woman to enter her husband’s name on her passport,” he stated. Regarding divorced women, Kazi mentioned that modifications would be made to include a box for the ex-husband’s name in their passports.

Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi has taken notice of the issue and formed a committee to resolve it, with Interior Secretary Khurram Ali Agha appointed as its head.

Naqvi directed the committee to review all passport-related issues for women and devise a workable solution that ensures convenience and ease for married women. The ministry aims to find an immediate solution in line with the rules and regulations.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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