PHC eases POC rules for Afghans married to Pakistanis

Afghan refugees

PESHAWAR: In a significant development, the Peshawar High Court (PHC), under the jurisdiction of Justice Waqar Ahmad, issued a comprehensive 33-page judgment concerning the “Pakistan Origin Card” (POC) for Afghan refugees married to Pakistani citizens.

The ruling emphasised the need to relax regulations and ease the process for Afghan-Pakistani couples during this challenging phase.

The court has partially allowed all petitions related to POC applications, asserting that applicants should apply for the POC in the relevant forum. The court further ruled that to obtain POC, passport or identity card should not be mandatory for the Afghans who are married to Pakistanis.

Some of these Afghans are residing in Pakistan for four decades. The court ruled that ease should be provided to such refugees.

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Acknowledging the difficulties faced by Afghan refugees, the PHC emphasised the swift issuance of POC cards after the submission of necessary documents by married couples. The court also recognised the authority of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to request details and evidence, ensuring the legitimacy of Afghan nationals seeking POCs.

The decision also shed light on improving facilitation of marriage registration process, if one spouse is Pakistani. The court stressed the importance of eliminating unnecessary obstacles in the registration of children born to Pakistani-Afghan couples as well.

In terms of the POC application process, the court mandated NADRA to issue cards only after thorough clearance, and to issue a rejection with detailed reasons to the applicant in the case of non-clearance.

This landmark decision by the Peshawar High Court reflects a more compassionate and pragmatic approach towards Afghan refugees, acknowledging their longstanding presence in Pakistan and striving to simplify administrative processes for their integration into society.

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