Pakistan: Imran Khan supporters could have bank accounts blocked through digital ID

Pakistan’s Interior Minister has warned supporters of the popular recently-ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan that they could have their digital IDs – and thus their bank accounts – switched off should they continue to make public demonstrations against the charges the former leader faces.

The comments of interior minister Rana Sanaullah came after an incident in July in which supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – the party Khan founded – heckled the Secretary General of Pakistan Muslim League Ahsan Iqbal at a restaurant.

The Interior Minister called on citizens to submit video evidence of any similar “harassment” episodes to the Cyber Crime Wing of Parkistan’s Federal Investigation Agency committed by Khan supporters.

As a result, the “culprits” once identified could have their computerized national identity cards (CNICs) and passports blocked.

The blocking of one’s passport would obviously prohibit their right to travel overseas, and a court case would likely follow, yet the implications of having their CNIC (digital identity) blocked would have far more serious ramifications.

A senior official of the Nation­al Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) told The Nation that, should one’s CNIC be blocked, the accused person would be prevented access from their bank accounts and would also be unable to use any facility which requires biometric verification.

Pakistan citizens need biometric verification for matters like the transferral of vehicles, purchase of SIM cards, financial transactions among other common exchanges.

A sign of things to come around the world

The implementation of digital identities, fuelled by the hysteria surrounding COVID-19, has given the excuse to power-hungry leaders around the world to further impose tyranny over citizens.

Digital IDs such as health apps, initially pitched as a means to protect against a virus, are now being expanded to clamp down on dissenting voices and controlling supplies, and will soon be used for further forms of public control.

In China, authorities in Henan province recently turned the status of citizens red on their ‘health app’ in order to prevent a scheduled bank protest. In Indonesia, the COVID-19 tracking app is now being used to allocate subsidized cooking oil to its citizens amid shortages.

This trend, unfortunately, will continue to spread across the world should citizens not civilly disobey these digital tools that have been imposed.

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