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Passport servers fail to serve applicants

Published Nov 06, 2012 12:20am


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The ordinary passport (Rs3,000) delivery time is 15 days while it is a week for urgent passport (Rs5,000).— File photo

LAHORE, Nov 5: The timely processing and issuance of passports at a number of regional and district offices across the country and at some foreign missions remained a distant dream on Monday as the Machine Readable Passport system as usual developed a fault and a good number of applicants failed to get their passports in-time, it is learnt.

A visit to the Garden Town Passport Office (also a Punjab Zone headquarter) on Monday revealed that the processing at counters halted after the main server developed some fault and was shut down temporarily.

Similarly, the passport counter at the Lahore High Court also couldn’t facilitate the applicants because of data processing problems.

Information gleaned from the Directorate of Immigration and Passport, Islamabad, showed that both the problems were occurring across the country because of poor handling of the MRP system and shortage of passport material. Passport applicants in Pakistan as well as abroad have been adversely suffering in the hands of Immigration and Passport department as ordinary passports are reaching the delivery counters with a delay of two to three months.

Similarly, applicants are also receiving urgent passports after a week’s delay.

The ordinary passport (Rs3,000) delivery time is 15 days while it is a week for urgent passport (Rs5,000).

A source at the Directorate General of I&P Islamabad told Dawn that the delay in issuance of passport was because of less issuance of passport books by Pakistan Security Printing Corporation which was not paid outstanding dues by the department.

He said millions of rupees had to be paid to the corporation.

The source said only 5,000 books were being delivered to the department a day against requirement of 15,000 books.

He said mismanagement and poor supervision at the directorate level resulted in poor service. The source said all types of passports were issued for the country and all foreign missions by the directorate, adding the department was also receiving complaints from some other countries.

The source further said another serious complaint at passport offices was unnecessary delay in processing due to fluctuation in main server linkage.

A Dubai-based newspaper recently highlighted the miseries of Pakistanis who were facing passport renewal problems at the Pakistani Consulate in Dubai as thousands of applications were pending because of shortage of staff there.

The source said the shortage of lamination paper was also a contributing factor.

Another source in the Punjab Zone told this reporter that correspondence with the directorate regarding both problems was repeatedly taken up in the past, but to no avail.

The assistant directors of Punjab Zone passport offices in a recent meeting held at the zonal office raised concerns about unnecessary delays in passport issuance, shortage of staff and technical problems in Machine Readable Passport system, he said.

The source said it had become a routine in each passport office that applicants quarrelled with the staff for delays and blamed them for disturbing their foreign journey schedules.

He said a good number of applicants returned empty-handed on the specified date they were asked to collect passports.

The source further said the shortage of staff was another factor for delay in processing and issuing passports.

He said the staff and resources from old passport offices were shifted to three newly-established passport offices - Hafizabad, Sialkot and Jala Peerwala - where the number of applicants was thin.

He said the three offices were set up by the PPP-led government to accommodate local politicians.

Farooq Aslam of Mughalpura, accompanied with the five family members on Oct 24, said he got passport issuance date of Dec 24, 2012.

He said the National Bank of Pakistan cashier received Rs30 per applicant in the name of challan processing fee despite the fact that he received the copies of the challan form from a person standing outside the bank after paying him Rs30.

DGI&P Director-General Syed Wajid Ali didn’t reply to the cell phone calls and a text message sent to his number.

However, Director Database Rao Imran declined to comment on the issue of passport processing problems, saying the reporter must see him at his office or contact the media director of the federal interior ministry.


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Comments (14) Closed

Aamir Amjad Nov 07, 2012 02:13am
But the present governament was elected by the people so we all deserve this treatment unless we change our voting patterns
Windie Nov 07, 2012 08:19am
Living in Australia I can definitely relate how frustrating things can get when dealing with a Pakistani passport. The consulate here in Canberra is an absolute joke run by completely unprofessional staff. There were unnecessary delays and useless requirements when it came to renewing my passport. At one time I was even accused of failing to inform them when relevant documents were sent on time. It was bad enough to learn that they don
Windie Nov 07, 2012 08:26am
After getting my hand written passport I also learned that certain countries will not accept it. You would think that they would have some sort of decency and at least mention this somewhere along with a list of countries that do not accept it.
Rogue Nov 07, 2012 05:43am
Actually, here in Karachi, the delivery time for regular passport is a full 90 days. Urgent passport is promised in 15 days. Agents can get it done in 7 days for additional charges, I didn't explore the rates for any more urgency. Speaking from my own experience in September this year.
Zishi Nov 06, 2012 10:01am
There is no accountability in Pakistan and the only people who suffer is the ordinary citizen. I am sure that if you are a son/daughter or a relative of an influential person than your passport will be ready before time and get delivered as well. Director Genral Syed Wajid Ali or Director Database Rao Imran will not reply because in their head they are not public servants but public master. They know that because of their family and political affiliations there is no risk to their jobs. Corruption all around and they all save each other's back. This is how it works in Pakistan.
Saad (DXB) Nov 06, 2012 09:47am
Visiting Pakistani Consulate in Dubai is a complete nightmare. One has to wait at least 3-5 hours in scorching heat of the day just to be able to have the passport issuance/ renewal formalities completed. Pakistani Consulate General in Dubai is serving over 900,000 million strong Pakistani community from Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah. This is particularly distressing for working class men like me, since I have to take a full day off from work, every time there is a need for passport renewal for myself or for my family. Moreover, I have seen media reports that Pakistani government has space in Sharjah for construction of Pakistani consulate which has been lying idle for years and no action has been taken to set up an additional constulate which is an urgent need of the hour, given the small size and huge number of Pakistanis visiting the Consulate General of Pakistan in Dubai each day
Nabeel Nov 06, 2012 04:46pm
Such lapses undermine the trust of the people in the system. Immediate action needs to be taken to rectify the situation and responsibility be set for the delay.
observer Nov 06, 2012 01:48pm
Shame on the department and its officials. So much trouble is caused to a large number of people. Please someone go to court and file for financial compensation for all whose passport processing was delayed. This does not happen anywhere in the civilized world. Shame on concerned official once again.
Hani Nov 07, 2012 06:30am
Thanks for bringing this up. I would also like to voice a concern from all Pakistani expats living in the far east. The Pakistani Consulates here do not issue Machine Readable Passports at all. I recently moved to Singapore and was astonished to note that MRPs were never issued in Pakistani Embassies and Consulates in this region, even if you tell them that you are willing to wait for 1-2 months. I was given a hand-written passport (read: Mickey mouse passport) with edits using a whito (because probably even the writer fell asleep while doing his job) for SGD50 and the processing time was a week. When i questioned why MRPs are not issued here, they told me that's "the policy" and this passport should be good for "most countries" in the world. I thought to myself "you mean most countries we are still allowed to enter"... I don't understand how the government can actually issue a citizen a passport while accepting he/she will not be allowed in certain countries with it, there is something wrong about this statement which just sounds rubbish and does not make sense to me. They also said "woh tou shukar karein hum aap ko passport de rahay hain, warna aap ko SGD2,000 kharch kar ke Pakistan jana parta"... i said "bohot shukria aap ka" but i do not think he got my sarcasm! I have already been declines some visas on this passport (not to my surprise) and have to sneakingly use my previous passport to travel!
G.A. Nov 06, 2012 10:21pm
But how do you shame the shameless?
Cyrus Howell Nov 06, 2012 09:48pm
The timely processing and issuance of passports at many offices across the country and at some foreign missions remains a distant dream. . Unless you can pay up, under the table. Officials have to pay the big boys for their public offices, so they need to get their juice from the supplicants. They want to dip their beaks too. They have hungry, chirping mouths to feed.
Arif Nov 06, 2012 11:13am
I am a NRP living in Dubai for 25 years. I have never seen such ques in front of Pakistan Consulate. This only started after the present Government took charge of the country's affairs. I wonder when they will give attention to the problems of common people instead of focussing on their own narrow personal interests. Or may be they are just not capable of running the country.
m khan Nov 06, 2012 05:45pm
Arif: I would say not capable of handling the day to day opersations or dont have the key people too.
aku Nov 06, 2012 09:31am
Not surprising at all. The same goes for NADRA. Quality of service is a distant dream when it comes to any public institution in Pakistan.