Dubai: Thousands of Pakistani expatriates in the UAE have been left fuming because their passports are delayed way beyond the delivery dates.
The backlog is so huge that the Pakistan Consulate General in Dubai stopped receiving fresh passport applications yesterday forcing hundreds of disappointed applicants to gather at the consulate to protest against the consulate staff and the Pakistan government, Gulf News has learnt.
“We have stopped receiving applications as we cannot handle more data as around 7,000 applications have been piled up at the consulate while delivery of at least 10,000 passports has been pending,” a senior official told Gulf News during a visit to the consulate.
However, Tariq Iqbal Somoro, Consul General in Dubai said that the consulate is facing delays in the delivery of the passports since September and there are about 7,000 applications lying pending.
He told Gulf News that they are trying to solve the issue and have been in talks with the Ministry of Interior which is responsible for issuing the passports and manning the staff at the missions abroad.
Gulf News investigations revealed that the problem started after the Assistant Director of Machine Readable Passport (MRP) Mohammad Israr was suddenly transferred by the Pakistan’s Minister of Interior Rehman Malik.
He was asked to leave the charge within 24 hours and he left for Pakistan on the same day of receiving orders on September 27. No replacement has been sent since then despite repeated requests by the Consul General.
AD MRP is the only person who can process the passport applications and send data to Pakistan as the passports are printed in Islamabad and then sent here by official courier.
No one at the consulate has the ‘password’ to process the data resulting in backlong of thousands of applications piled up at the consulate.
Somoro said that the applicants can also go to Abu Dhabi for renewal and also he has allowed temporary extensions of old passports for up to 45 days in case of emergency travel.
Around 500 to 600 people visit the consulate in Dubai to apply for renewal of passports.
A normal passport delivery should not take more than two weeks while the urgent passport should be delivered within a week.
“There is complete chaos which needs to be fixed. I applied for an urgent passport last month because I have to renew my visa but I have been waiting for my passport for the last 40 days,” said M.A Bashir. He said he had visited the consulate at least five times but every time turned away by the ‘rude’ staff at the counter.
“This is sheer negligence on behalf of the Pakistan government and the officials concerned. This shows that our ‘corrupt’ leaders have no respect for the overseas Pakistanis who send back home the largest amount of remittances from the UAE,” said Naveed Younas, a businessman.
The excessive delay in the delivery of passports has also led to a plethora of problems for applicants. Many applicants’ visas have expired, while others have had to revise their travel plans and flight schedules.
“This is ridiculous! The government needs to fix the problem at once. This is a serious matter because people have to travel for different reasons and the government is doing nothing” said Junaid Khan who applied for the passport two months ago.