3 million passports issued to Pakistanis this year

ISLAMABAD: Acting Director General Passports and Immigration Mohammad Safdar said here on Monday that Directorate of Passports issued three million passports to Pakistanis during the current financial year.

He said this during a meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control chaired by Senator Talha Mehmood and attended by Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Senator Shahi Syed and Senator Col (R) Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi.

The DG said the total number of passports to be issued this year will rise to four million, adding the number of passports has been increased from 0.496 million in 2004 to 2.665 million in 2012-13.

The number of total passport offices has been increased from 28 in 2004 to 93 in 2013-14 while the number of foreign missions where Machine Readable Passports and Machine Readable Visas system has been installed has increased from 10 foreign missions in 2004 to 33 foreign missions in 2013-14.

The committee was told that under a policy a Passport Office would be established in every district of the country. The committee recommended that sixth office should be opened in Karachi to meet needs of a large population.

The committee members sought details of the blue  passports issued so far and recommended to the Interior Ministry that passports which were issued on blocked Computerized National Identity Cards  should be cancelled.

They also recommended that shortage of staff and budget for Directorate of Passports should be met  and officers in foreign missions should be posted on merit.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rashid said more steps should be taken to facilitate overseas Pakistanis in getting passports.

He said 110 million Pakistanis use mobile phones and they were capable of using new technologies which is evident from the fact that 0.7 million citizens used the tracking system to know about the status of their passports.

The committee was told that 902 individuals were identified or reported by different quarters during the years 2008-13 that they were non-nationals or they had doubtful national status and illegally obtained Pakistani passports.

All such non-nationals have been placed on blacklist and their passports have been made inactive in the Machine Readable Passport (MRP) tracking system. Moreover, NADRA authorities have also been informed to cancel their CNICs.

Besides 7726 persons were declared non-national by Peshawar High Court, Peshawar and have been blacklisted. Out  of these, 613 persons possessed Pakistani Machine Readable Passports which have been made inactive in the database.

The committee was told that 1547 cases of multiple passports  were received in 2009, 1000 in 2010, 792 in 2011, 1154 in 2012 and 1714 in 2013.

Presently, 24 Pakistani Foreign Missions are issuing Machine Readable Passports while four Pakistani Missions  in Madrid, Washington D.C, Hague and Copenhagen are enabled with MRP system and will be operational by June 30, 2014.

While posting of Passports officials in five missions in Houston, Vancouver, Pretoria, Damascus and Ottawa is in process.

The committee members appreciated the performance of the Passports Office and recommended opening of new offices where these are needed.