Passport printing predicament

In a world where mobility is in­creasingly becoming a necessi­ty rather than a luxury, the delay in passport printing emerges as a critical issue. It is a problem that affects individuals, families, and businesses alike, crippling plans and aspirations. Despite official denials by authorities, the ground reality tells a different story of frustration, disappointment, and a bureaucratic quagmire.

Reports surfaced in December 2023, with the interim interior ministry of Pakistan vehement­ly denying any delays in passport printing. They dismissed such claims as baseless rumours prop­agated by mischievous elements on social media. For many hopeful applicants, this statement brought temporary relief, a flicker of hope that their long-awaited passports might soon be in hand. However, as time passed, it became evident that the denial was nothing but a smokescreen to conceal the sys­temic inefficiencies plaguing the passport issuance process.

A personal anecdote under­scores the gravity of the situation. A friend applied for a passport in October 2023 and is still awaiting its arrival. Similarly, my own par­ents, seeking passport renewal in December 2023, were promised a collection date of January 1, 2024. However, subsequent visits to the passport office revealed a dis­heartening truth- the passports were far from ready. In a recent visit to the District Dadu passport office in Sindh, Pakistan, officials admitted that ordinary passport printing had ceased since October 2023, with only urgent requests being processed. This revelation casts a shadow of doubt on the in­tegrity of the passport issuance system and raises troubling ques­tions about its priorities.

Is the passport and immigration office prioritizing expedited ser­vices for those willing to pay ex­orbitant fees for urgent process­ing? Are ordinary citizens being sidelined in favour of affluent in­dividuals who can afford to bypass the bureaucratic backlog? These questions demand urgent answers from the authorities responsible for safeguarding the integrity of the passport issuance process.

The ramifications of passport printing delays extend far be­yond inconvenienced travellers. They disrupt travel plans, jeopar­dize employment opportunities, and strain familial relationships. Imagine the plight of students un­able to pursue educational oppor­tunities abroad, or professionals missing out on career-enhancing assignments due to bureaucrat­ic inertia. The toll on mental well-being and economic stability can­not be overstated.

It is imperative that the interim interior ministry of Pakistan ac­knowledges the severity of the sit­uation and takes immediate reme­dial action. Merely refuting claims of delay without addressing the underlying issues is a disservice to the citizens relying on timely passport issuance. The passport issuance process must be stream­lined, bureaucratic bottlenecks eliminated, and transparency en­sured to rebuild public trust.

Furthermore, measures should be implemented to prioritize passport printing based on gen­uine urgency rather than finan­cial capacity. Every citizen has the right to timely access to essen­tial documentation for travel and identification purposes, regard­less of their socioeconomic status.

In conclusion, the delay in pass­port printing in Pakistan is not merely a bureaucratic inconve­nience-it is a systemic failure with far-reaching consequences. It is incumbent upon the authorities to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and take decisive steps to rectify it. Only then can the citi­zens regain confidence in the pass­port issuance process and reclaim their right to unhindered mobility.

FAHAD RIND JOHI,

Lahore.

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