Islamabad, Nov 10 (PTI) An acute scarcity of lamination paper, which is used in Pakistani passports and typically imported from France, has resulted in a sharp decline in the issuance of the key travel document in the cash-strapped country, media reports said on Friday.
Thousands of Pakistanis, who need the green-coloured book, for travelling abroad for study, work, or leisure are stuck, with no end to their ordeal presently in sight, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
Quoting a senior officer of the passport office in Peshawar, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, the newspaper said, they could presently process only 12 to 13 passports per day as compared to 3,000 to 4,000 passports daily previously.
The newspaper also quoted sources in different regional passport offices, who too, it said, “were in the dark about a concrete timeline” and that “People may have to wait for another month or two.” However, The Pakistan Observer portal quoted the Interior Ministry sources who said, “The order for lamination paper has been placed by Pakistan and they will get the order in a week.” Quoting sources privy to the development, it also said that the (regional) offices are “receiving up to 25,000 applications for renewal or issuance of passports on a daily basis, but due to a shortage of lamination paper in the country, the backlog has now reached 5,00,000.” When asked about the apparent inefficiency of the Directorate General of Immigration & Passports (DGI&P), The Express Tribune, Qadir Yar Tiwana, the Director General for Media of the Ministry of Interior, the parent ministry of DGI&P, said that the government was doing its best to navigate the crisis.
“The situation will soon be under control and passport issuance will continue as normal,” Tiwana was quoted by the newspaper as saying. The department had already witnessed a steady decline in the backlog, he claimed.
The newspaper quoted people from across the country whose travel plans were jeopardised because of the delay in receiving their passports. The troubled citizens ranged from students, who had secured admission in a foreign university, to devotees who were readying for the Umrah booking in Saudi Arabia.
The Pakistan Observer said that the official delivery timing for the issuance of regular passports had been extended to a maximum of 21 working days, compared to the previous 10-day timeframe.
Back in 2013 too, passport printing had come to a similar grinding halt due to the DGI&P owing money to printers and a lack of lamination papers, The Express Tribune reported. PTI NPK NPK NPK