Interview with Tariq Malik, Deputy Chairman, NADRA

by Noc Team on June 8, 2011

Interviewed by Muhammad Yasir

M. Tariq Malik, Deputy Chairman NADRA

Tariq Malik was appointed to a strategic management role as Deputy Chairman by board members of the National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) in May 2008. Mr. Malik brings 19 years of strategic management experience to the implementation of high profile citizen-centric technology solutions for the governments of the United States of America, Canada, Germany, Bahrain and Pakistan.

He is well-known in project and technology management as a successful CIO, Senior Consultant Information Systems, speaker, writer, trainer and researcher on Information Technology in the public sector. Prior to joining NADRA, he worked as Chief of Technology at Wayne County in State of Michigan, USA. Mr. Malik has the honor of being the (former) IT Advisor of Ms. Benazir Bhutto, late Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Malik has completed a Masters degree in International Management from Heidelberg, Germany, after having completed a Masters Degree in Computer Science from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.

CodeWeek: Congratulations on winning the ID People Award. How does it feel?

Tariq: It feels good, but really this award belongs to the employees of NADRA: especially CTO and the team which developed the application and CPO and the team which  executed the project. Also the Chief of Datawarehouse, our Regional GMs and all the employees who were involved with empowering Afghan refugees with an identity so that they can become lawful ‘refugees’. And especially the people of Pakistan, who despite living hand to mouth were hospitable to their Afghan brothers and sisters. All these people won the award. Can there be any civilized nation which has welcomed more than 5 million refugees?


Tariq: Well, part of it was that I got where I wanted to be in just ten years. Many among the Pakistani diasporas worried about the future of Pakistan, ever engaging in endless discussions in their cosy basements of what to do about Pakistan but none of them would sacrifice the good life to come and serve the country.  I saw an opportunity when NADRA advertised a position of GM Networks, and thought coming back to Pakistan would actually be ‘back to the future’!

CodeWeek: Despite all these new technologies, forgeries are still taking place, will this ever end?

Tariq: The battle against crime is ongoing. The fight will be lost if we stop improving our documents and systems. After all, stagnation means decline! The future is difficult to predict, the answer can’t be given easily, and if someone should have the final answer, do not trust them.

But on the other hand, do trust the scientists, who both in the academic world and in the world of business community try to invent and develop new tools to safeguard citizens against identity theft and to protect documents against alteration and forgery.

CodeWeek: What is the definition of an identity from NADRA’s perspective?

Tariq: The collective set of distinct personal and physical features of a Pakistan national, together with data and qualities that enable a Pakistani to be distinguished from others.  In the world biggest multi-biometric citizens’ database system, established by NADRA, identity is typically established when, after a client’s registration, fingerprints and photos are compared with all the CNIC holders are registered before him/her.

CodeWeek: NADRA’s slogan is “Catalyst for Change”, what change have you brought?

Tariq: Yes, we believe that NADRA is a Catalyst for Change. We are trying our best to change the way government does its business. We are transforming the e-Govt. agenda in Pakistan.  NADRA houses the world’s largest multi-biometric database, which gives us a national competitive advantage. We have very effectively used it to bring transparency in many government’s citizen-centric initiatives.  These programs have enhanced public convenience, improved service delivery and ensured transparency and above all, left an impression of good governance.

CodeWeek: How many adult citizens you have registered and how do you register?

Tariq: We have so far registered so far 84.73 million adult citizens in Pakistan which constitutes 91% of the adult population (18 years or older). This is an increase of 50% compared with 2008. There is a significant surge in the registration of women which has increased by 70%. We have more than 800 data acquisition centers which include static registration centers, mobile registration vans, motor cycle service and mountain trekkers registering citizens in the mountains. But the real asset is 14500 employees who make it happen!

CodeWeek: How complicated was the process of Afghan refugees’ registration in the country? What model has NADRA adopted to complete this task?

Tariq: NADRA completed the UNHCR sponsored project of the registration of 1.47 million Afghan refugees in record time using multi-biometric technology, thus enabling UNHCR to have the world’s largest refugee database.  There were many challenges and the biggest of all was to reach the refugees, often in remote situations or otherwise hidden. The refugees were living throughout Pakistan and many were not even aware that they needed to be registered to get assisted by donor agencies. NADRA proved its efficiency by getting 1.409 million of Afghan Refugees registered for Secure Card and also issued 769,542 Birth Certificates to Afghan Children (under18) in a record short span of time.

CodeWeek: What is the role of NADRA in supporting the banking sector and financial institutions of the country with its high-tech software?

Tariq: NADRA provides verification services to the banking sector through secure software called Verisys developed and patented by NADRA. This system verifies and authenticates a citizen’s identity for the banking community.  The requirement to ensure the identity of the customer who wants to open an account at a bank is regulated by the State Bank of Pakistan.  These regulations are part of the “Know Your Client” (KYC) regulations. NADRA helps the banks to comply with some of the KYC regulations by verifying the CNIC of their clients through Verisys system.  Verisys allows the banks to mitigate fraud and forgery in their financial transactions.  Today NADRA provides online verification of CNIC to the majority of the banks in the country.  To improve efficiency in the banking sector, NADRA has also developed a new facility for the banks to allow instant account opening.  This new service allows the banks to verify and receive client’s (identity-related) information for the account opening.  This new service will revolutionize banking processes in Pakistan.

NADRA also provides VSAT (DVB RCS) connectivity to the banks, especially their remote branches, through its satellite hub.  This facility allows the banks to be connected to their branches in a reliable and efficient mode, with 24/7 support services.

CodeWeek: How is the e-Sahulate project supporting financial transactions to different companies?

Tariq: NADRA developed e-Sahulat (another software patent of NADRA) to facilitate the general public in the utility bill payment process in 2008.  Through e-Sahulat, NADRA collects the payments on behalf of the utility companies. e-Sahulat was designed specifically for rural areas, low income population and high density populated areas.  This service was designed to help where payment facilities were limited or non-existent.  e-Sahulat is spread throughout Pakistan and serves the people up to the Tehsil level.  As the pioneers of e-payment platforms, NADRA and its system have revolutionized the bill payment process in the country.  Any utility bills can be paid online on any e-Sahulat location in the country.  e-Sahulat is a “Prepaid Franchise” system and in three years around 5,000 franchised locations have been established.  This also means that over 5000 jobs are created for the low-income population in the country.

CodeWeek: What is the role of NADRA in verifying users of the telecom sector (cellular and wireless) in the country?

Tariq: In order to control the sales of SIMS to verified citizens, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) required the telecom sector to implement a transparent process.  NADRA offered STS a service that authenticates the CNIC of the customer at the time of activation of SIM Card.  NADRA has enabled the call centers of the telecom sector to verify and activate the Sims in an online process.  This reduces the time needed to serve their customer and confirm authenticated sales of the SIM card. Prior to this service, unlimited SIMs were sold without proper authentication.  This resulted in fraudulent activities including terrorism.  All major telecom companies are using the STS for verification of their customers.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Shazia June 10, 2011 at 10:28 AM

NADRA has revolutionzed since Tariq Malik joined as Deputy Chairman. Under his leadership, young team of professionals instead of old grummpy bearucrats are transforming public governance by deploying e-Government applications like the one mentioned in interview. This is a positive sign and a ray of hope for those who are trying hard to leave the country. He took a brave decision to comeback to Pakistan and give back his experience in foreign countries. NADRA truly is “catalyst of change.”

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