People holding Pakistan Origin Cards (POCs) and foreign national spouses of Pakistanis have been declared ineligible to obtain Covid-19 vaccine.
On Monday, the government announced that as the covid vaccination drive is being carried out and will be started on 10th March for senior citizens but those who hold Pakistan Origin Cards (POCs) and foreign national spouses of Pakistanis are not eligible to be inoculated. In this regard, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) admitted that the POC holders are very much Pakistanis and so, the meeting would be held to discuss this issue.
National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) website states that “Pakistan Origin Card (POC) program endeavors to provide eligible foreigners with unprecedented incentives to get back to their roots; while ensuring that the motherland remains tightly integrated with expatriates worldwide which include:
- Multiple visa-free entry in to Pakistan.
- Indefinite stay in Pakistan with exemption from reporting to police or foreigners’ registration offices, etc.
- Right to purchase, sell, own, deal with and dispose of movable and immovable property anywhere in Pakistan.
- Right to open and operate the bank accounts in Pakistan.
- Swift immigration into/from Pakistan at all designated routes, port and places.
- Proof of Identity in place of National Identity Card.
- May obtain Employment.
Moreover, almost 180,000 persons have been issued POCs, but not yet confirmed the total number of people over 60 years of age.
An official of the Ministry of NHS confirmed that helpline 1166 has not registered the POC holders for vaccination. Javed Akhtar, a 70s old man told the media that “I sent her POC number, which also has 13 digits just like CNIC, but I was informed that it was not a valid card. I tried it again and again and every time got the same message. Later, when I inquired I was shocked to know that POC holders were ineligible for vaccination,”
Javed, the resident of Islamabad, said: “As the Covid-19 vaccine is not available in the market, I want to ask the decision-makers, whether I will have to send my wife to the United States for vaccination. It is a matter of embarrassment for me that my wife, who has been living with me here for three decades, is ineligible for vaccination.”
However, the issue is under consideration and will be addressed soon.