Ahsan calls for review of passport laws to further facilitate citizens

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 6 (APP): Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal Friday said Directorate General of Immigration and Passport should review its current laws to further facilitate citizens and meet new challenges.
“We are living in the 21th century but relevant laws of
the department are too old,” he said during a briefing given
by the Director General Immigration and Passport Usman Akhtar Bajwa here.
The minister asked the Director General to take all the
stakeholders on board and update relevant laws which were too old and make them simple and effective.
“Agent Mafia and delay in the issuance of passport to
the public should be abandoned now and there should be no
compromise on black sheep in the department,” he said.
Usman Akhtar Bajwa briefed that the Immigration and
Passport Office had issued 4.3 million passports in a year
and generated revenue of over Rs 20 billion.
He said the department had issued 91 citizenship
certificates and dealt with 3,717 renunciation cases in
2016-17 besides only two cases of naturalization of
Somali citizens in 2014-15.
The Director General said that there were seven zones
of the department in which three were in Punjab and one each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Regarding the achievements of Passport Office from the
period 2013 to 2017, he said that number of passports had
increased by 30 percent as compared to previous 5 years and increase in the revenue was 35 percent.
In all, 84 Regional Passport Offices (RPOs) out of 164
and 74 Foreign Missions out of 91 were established during the tenure of the present government, he added.
To reduce queues, he said that all the branches of
National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in 15 major cities were
collecting passport fee and payment of passport fee could
also be made through NBP Mobile/branchless banking
service.
Usman Akhtar said the other initiative was to eliminate
queues with the provision of facilities of Executive Passport
Offices, RPOs at district level, online passport renewal outside Pakistan, home delivery service in the country and home delivery service for online applicants abroad.
To improve the customers awareness, he said there were
several steps that had been taken including the launch of
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) in six languages which
received 300 calls per day.
He said the Passport and Immigration had also started
SMS Rabta Service for proactively seeking feedback from every applicant and over 250,000 SMS were sent per month. The feedback system received 18000 to 25000 replies per month.
Usman Akhtar said that administrative action has been taken
on consistent complaints and over 65 officials including incharges at Regional Passport Offices were replaced.
Regarding the upgradation of Machine Readable Passport to
E-Passport, the Director General said that Prime Minister had
approved launch of the E-Passport project.
He said under the project, initially the validity of the
official and diplomatic E-Passports will be for 10 years.
The minister assured full support to the Directorate General
of Immigration and Passport to resolve the administrative and financial issues on priority basis.