Sana rolls out machine-readable passport at Pakistani embassy in Baghdad

MoI says around 25,000 Pakistani citizens living in Iraq will benefit from facility replacing the manual passport system: validity of machine-readable passports will be 5-10 years.

ISLAMABAD  -  Interior Minister Rana Sanaul­lah Khan on Thursday rolled out a machine-readable passport system for Pakistani embassy in Baghdad to facilitate Pakistani citizens travelling to Iraq or liv­ing in the country.

Around 25,000 Pakistani citi­zens living in Iraq would ben­efit from the facility that has replaced the manual passport system, according to the Minis­try of Interior. A large number of Pakistanis travel to the Middle Eastern state every year to visit Iraq’s religious sites, besides for investment and employment reasons. The interior ministry said that Pakistani citizens living in Iraq and those visiting reli­gious sites would now be able to obtain machine-readable pass­ports with five or 10-year valid­ity. Before this, citizens were is­sued manual passports with one year validity, which was causing several problems for the Paki­stan community, it added.

“The new system will facilitate the Pakistani community in ac­quiring visas, resident permits (iqama) and employment,” the statement also said.

Additionally, the Pakistani em­bassy in Baghdad will be able to verify the data of Pakistani citi­zens living in Iraq online.

“The provision of all possible facilities to overseas Pakistanis is among the priorities of the gov­ernment,” Rana Sanaullah said during the inauguration ceremo­ny. He added that overseas Paki­stanis were their precious asset. The minister is on an official visit to Iraq to discuss a range of bilat­eral issues with the Iraqi leader­ship. A delegation of religious scholars and Director General Im­migration & Passports of Pakistan Yawar Hussain are accompanying him. On Wednesday, Rana Sanaul­lah held separate meetings with his Iraqi counterpart Abdul Amir Al Shammari and Iraqi president Abdul Latif Rashid.

On the request of Rana Sanaullah, the Iraqi interior minister agreed to increase the quota for Pakistanis visiting the country’s religious sites from 50,000 to 100,000, the interior ministry said. He also approved that Pakistani pilgrims would be issued Iraqi visas from the country’s embassy in Islamabad in individual capacity, besides issuing them group visas.

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