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.