Pakistan is facing a scarcity of lamination paper which is used in passports and is imported from France. The Directorate General of Immigration and Passports (DG I&P) said that the department is facing a shortage of lamination paper which has led to a nationwide shortage of the travel document, according to the Express Tribune.
Thousands of students, business owners and travellers who require the passport for travelling abroad for study, work or travel are now stuck. The caretaker government is yet to offer a solution to this problem. The Express Tribune said that regional passport offices in different cities are also unsure about a concrete timeline regarding the delivery of fresh passports. The DG I&P can only process 12 to 13 passports per day compared to 3,000 to 4,000 passports it was able to process before the shortage.
Pakistanis are angry and have said that they are paying the price of the government’s inefficiency.
“I was all set to move to Dubai for work soon. My family and I were beyond ecstatic that our fortunes would finally change but the mismanagement of DG I&P seems to have cost me my golden ticket out of poverty and this country,” a resident from the nation’s Punjab province said.
A student from Peshawar told the Express Tribune that they were scheduled to begin their classes in Italy but due to unavailability of a passport she could not leave.
The newspaper pointed out that this is not the first time Pakistanis leaving the nation have faced hurdles due to government inefficiency. It said that in 2013 passport printing came to a grinding halt because the DG I&P owed money to passport printers and faced a lack of lamination papers.
The interior ministry, which is the parent ministry of the DG I&P, said the government is doing its best to mitigate the crisis. “The situation will soon be under control and passport issuance will continue as normal,” Qadir Yar Tiwana, the director general for media of the ministry of interior, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
He said the department is witnessing a steady decline in the backlog.
People who spoke to the newspaper disagree. A resident of Karachi said that they submitted their application two months ago and are yet to receive their passport. Another resident feels the DG I&P is misleading people by saying that the backlog of passport applications are declining.
“Ever since September the passport office has been stating that your passport will come next week but multiple weeks have passed and they keep repeating the same,” a resident of Peshawar, who cancelled his Umrah bookings in Saudi Arabia, said.
The officials involved have no idea when the backlog shall clear. “People may have to wait for another month or two,” the officials told the newspaper.