ISLAMABAD, Dec 7: Interior Minister Rehman Malik ordered on Friday an inquiry into the delay in issuance of machine readable passports (MRP) and asked the headquarters of passport office to work in three shifts and clear the backlog within a week.

Presiding over a meeting held to review the performance of the passport office and complaints relating to the issuance of passports, Mr Malik asked the additional secretary-II of his ministry to hold an inquiry and ascertain the reasons causing the backlog.

The director general of immigration and passports assured the meeting that passport offices in Ottawa, Kuala Lumpur, Damascus, Madrid, Sydney, Bradford, Tashkent, Washington DC, Athens, Vancouver, The Hague and Houston would start issuing machine readable passports by the end of this month.

The interior minister approved the setting up of another 23 passport offices in Milan, Pretoria, Kabul, Copenhagen, Beijing, Hong Kong, Brussels, Tokyo, Seoul, Amman, Tehran, Singapore, Bangkok, Vienna, Manila, Cairo, Dhaka, Colombo, Abuja, Istanbul, Brasilia, Tripoli and Darussalam.

He asked the director general to ensure that these offices start functioning by the middle of January next year.

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