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Report terms passport backlog deliberate


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Passport seekers at the Garden Town office. — Photo by Dawn

ISLAMABAD: An investigation by senior officials of the interior ministry and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) held the senior hierarchy in the ministry and the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports (DGIP) responsible for passport backlog that has affected hundreds of thousands of people.

The investigation report revealed that officials had deliberately kept pending the bidding process to create an “extreme urgency” because they wanted to give the contract for procuring laminate patches for the passports to a company after relaxing the procurement rules.

Because of non-availability of the laminates, printing of a huge number of passports has been delayed for the past few months.

According to an estimate, about 700,000 applications for passports are pending in DGIP’s offices across the country.

Former interior minister Rehman Malik had constituted a committee, headed by the ministry’s additional secretary, in December to investigate the matter. The committee completed its inquiry on March 14 after interviewing several officials.

“There has been a considerable delay in the procurement process for lamination patches for the passports. Prima facie, the delay is attributable to both the DGIP and the ministry of interior,” it said.

According to the report, the DGIP signed in August 2009 a contract for the supply of laminates with OpSec, a company based in New York.

The company was asked to provide laminates for passports for five years or 10 million patches (whichever came earlier), after completing the formalities.

In July last year, the firm completed the supply of 10m laminates to the DGIP and upon the expiry of contract, the department concerned of the interior ministry approved purchase of 1.5m more laminates from the same company and also floated a tender in August for more purchases.

Despite a backlog of over 300,000 passports in August, the committee found no progress in the matter until the requests for prequalification for bids were opened on Dec 11 and four bidders were qualified by the purchase committee on Dec 26.

The committee floated a tender notice for technical and financial bids on Feb 19 and the bidders were required to submit their bids within 15 days, whereas the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules set at least 30 days response time for international bidding.

In reply to a request by the committee, the PPRA’s managing director informed it: “The PPRA Ordinance, 2002, does not provide any powers to the federal government to grant such a relaxation.”

He, however, suggested that the DGIP might engage in negotiated tendering with one or more suppliers or contractors, with or without prior publication of a procurement notification, but for this it had to justify the ‘extreme urgency’ brought about by unforeseeable events.The committee did not recommend the relaxation of rules, observing that “it will not help in the situation as the supplies will take four to five weeks to reach Pakistan”.

During checking at the DGIP, the committee found 210,000 laminates available with the directorate which were sufficient for production of passports for at least one month.

It suggested that these laminates should be used with great caution and in cases of emergency only.

According to its proposed preferences, the students, expatriate Pakistanis, those wanting to go abroad for medical treatment and pilgrims should be given preference.

DAWN_VIDEO - /1029551/DAWN-RM-1x1

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Comments (35) Closed

Ahmed Apr 04, 2013 04:30am
Failure of Passport Department is not a new issue so which department is dutiful in Pakistan. Although it relates to international communities, what will be the impression but who cares for this poor nation. The problems are created by black sheeps in every government department being the most corrupt elements world renowned. Since these departments are playing with the patience of people they must expect that one day they will cause blood revolution in the country and they will be equally answerable to Allah almighty.
Usman Apr 04, 2013 04:35am
Unbelievable and yet believable that this happened in the PPP Government. The selfishness of these officials knows no bounds.
Husain Jan Apr 04, 2013 05:27am
OK fine, investigation is done, the result is out and it is known that there was a deliberate delay. The question : Will any one be punished for this criminal act where hundreds of thousands of passport seekers were put into agony, many of them may have lost their interviews and jobs and visas etc ?
Asif Kahsmiri Apr 04, 2013 07:38am
does not surprise me.
Anjum Amin Apr 04, 2013 08:18am
Speciality of PPP Government "make people corrupt to core"
Qaiser Bakhtiari Apr 04, 2013 08:19am
Perhaps its time that we consider the corrupt bureaucratic machinery of Pakistan an equally malicious threat to peace and security of this country.
Sinn Sal Apr 04, 2013 08:33am
does anything work in Pakistan, except terrorism?
haris Apr 04, 2013 09:01am
Do we expect any actions against these DGIPs to be taken by the authority? Answers is No! Respected CJP, there is another case here for you to take a sou moto action against the culprits?
Shafiq Khan Apr 04, 2013 09:09am
Nobody will be punished for the misery to public. Officialdom gone made. If it were a democracy a civilian will be in charge and answerable. That person will have to account for the situation. All found wanting should be sacked and sent home. Unless the ones those are found failing in their job must be held to account. See what democracy requires and what we do! Official all over the place are in the decision making positions , and when things go wrong they do not pay for their failure.
Dubai Apr 04, 2013 09:57am
I've been waiting for 3 months in Dubai for my urgent passport, I can't travel. What a shame, no accountability in the country. The nation is corrupt to the core, this is a failed country and there isn't anything positive to look forward to. I will revoke my citizenship the moment I get a chance.
Hadi Sakey Apr 04, 2013 10:04am
No not at all. Only DGIP is not involved other higher authorities are making money.
AHA Apr 04, 2013 10:48am
Corruption is the only guiding principle for the functioning of the State of Pakistan. Such a sad state of affairs.
anonymous Apr 04, 2013 10:53am
I am the suffering from this delay. I have a PHD schoalrship in UK and I am still stuck here because I didn't receive my passport which I sent in for renewal. Please I request the authorities to at least give our passports back know.
Hasnain Javed Apr 04, 2013 11:04am
all thieves good for nothing have ruined the country big time , Rehman malik should be held responsible for this mess as he was heading the Interior Ministry
Tariq Apr 04, 2013 11:04am
And, bribery is KING in the great land of ours!
Tariq Apr 04, 2013 11:07am
Do they care.? No!
capt Khan Apr 04, 2013 11:20am
The President can sign an ordinance to extend all passports by 3 years, and passport department may manuallly extend these. Many countries have their passports issued for ten years. There is no harm in issuing passports valid for ten years with more pages,in future. If there is a will to solve this problem,there are several different ways to do so.
NYC Apr 04, 2013 11:46am
I am in New York and I was told its going to take 3 to 4 months to get a passport. Its a freaking joke.
Sandip Apr 04, 2013 12:26pm
"According to its proposed preferences, the students, expatriate Pakistanis, those wanting to go abroad for medical treatment and pilgrims should be given preference" - Why non productive Pilgrims should be given preference? This is where priorities in our part of the world are misplaced. Secondly looking at timelines this issue was caused by people not taking resposibility to manage supply and demand.
Salim Apr 04, 2013 12:28pm
Dear, It is the fruit of our five year old democracy....
Saber Apr 04, 2013 01:36pm
I went to Toronto Consulate during last week of Jan and paid urgent fees (3 times higher than regular fee) to get my passport in 20 days instead of 2 months. As of now, there's still no news about my passport and they are answering on the phone, there are urgent cases from Nov still waiting to get their passports. So the consulate knew about the backlog from August, but shamefully they were still accepting the urgent cases just to gain extra revenue. The consulate should refund the urgent fees to all urgent cases, as they were not able to deliver as per the promised time.
Saad(DXB) Apr 04, 2013 02:49pm
Mind your own Business Indian.. This has nothing to do with you or India
k khan Apr 04, 2013 03:25pm
This is the result of incompetent, non serious and dishonest people in the power corridors which has damaged all state institutions. Only miracle can save day by day worsening situation.
khalidpalijo Apr 04, 2013 04:03pm
Why dont you do it now
vjjjjjjjjjjj Apr 04, 2013 05:02pm
Looks like this year world will be lot more peaceful.
Cyrus Howell Apr 04, 2013 05:40pm
Pakistan's government is a circus wagon filled with clowns.
Cyrus Howell Apr 04, 2013 05:58pm
There is a huge difference between a true democracy and ultra liberalism. Never mistake ultra liberalism for democracy.
Cyrus Howell Apr 04, 2013 06:00pm
Other immediate action is needed.
Cyrus Howell Apr 04, 2013 06:05pm
Well, a threat to the stability of the country at this point in time.
Cyrus Howell Apr 04, 2013 06:06pm
It's time to throw out the trash.
HM, Canada Apr 04, 2013 06:15pm
The caretaker PM should suspend all involved in laminate contract scam. Procure laminate on urgent basis and work overtime to remove the backlog.
HM, Canada Apr 04, 2013 06:17pm
Democracy is the best revenge(Bilawal Bhutto). They have completed their 5 yr. revenge from the public. Please spare the public now PPP.
sikander Apr 05, 2013 03:39am
same like India
Ghulam Qadir Apr 05, 2013 04:04am
very much shameful to know that a country is not able to issue passport to their citizens.Those people who want to travel abroad would be very important and not a routine visits.Such things shows that we are at the verge of failed state.People ,officials,goverment and other directly or indirectly connected to the issuance of passport are responsible for such failure.No thing is properly done on time.Some times our heart shed tears to know all these things. I request Supreme court to take stern suo moto notice that this act is degrading national value across the world.This can be termed as treason charge against responsible that they are defaming country.
Waqar Ajmal Apr 05, 2013 02:54pm
This is the condition of our incapable and unprofessional Government , due to which we the people of Pakistan Suffer in each and every part of the world. God Help us,