ISLAMABAD: The Zonal passport offices in Karachi and Lahore have started to operate 24/7 in line with orders of Interior Minister Mohsin Raza Naqvi.

Passport offices at Awami Markat in Karachi and Garden Town in Lahore will now be open around the clock to facilitate the public.

Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Sunday announced that at least one passport office in both Lahore and Karachi will stay open 24/7 to better serve the public and improve accessibility of the people to passport services.

In a post on X, Mr Naqvi said the move will make it easier for everyone to access passport services anytime.

“To give ease to the public and to facilitate them, at least one passport office will be open 24/7 in both Lahore and Karachi. This will make it easier for everyone to access passport services anytime,” he said.

The move is expected to significantly alleviate the burden on existing passport offices and reduce waiting times for applicants.

The development has come at a time when the number of people applying for passports appears to be growing.

Informed sources said the passports and immigration currently had a capacity to print 20 to 25 thousand passports per day while it was receiving around 40 thousand applications each day, leading to a backlog of passports which stands at around 0.8 million.

They said the interior minister has also taken notice of the huge backlog and under his directions steps were under way to enhance the printing capacity. They said that tenders had already been invited for printing of e-passport and machine readable passport machines.

The sources said the delay in release of funds for procurement of lamination paper and other essential materials was one of the reasons for the delay in issuance of passports.

They said a law will soon be brought to the parliament to give passports and immigration department the status of Authority, so that the organisation earning billions of rupees each year is not handicapped by delays in the release of funds.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2024

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