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Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi inaugurates new counsellor hall at the Pakistan Consulate General in Dubai. He is accompanied by Consul General Hassan Afzal Khan and Deputy Consul General Giyan Chand. Image Credit: Ashfaq Ahmed, Senior Assistant Editor

Dubai: Pakistan Consulate General in Dubai has introduced one-window operation considerably reducing the time for passport renewals.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi inaugurated a number of new facilities including a refurbished counsellor hall, a new call centre and the improved passport and ID cards renewal sections.

“I am pleased to see the new facilities as our mission in Dubai is the first in the world to introduce one-window operation for the passport section. We will replicate the same model at our other ‘crowded’ missions including in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries,” Qureshi told reporters on Thursday after opening the new facility.

Consul General Hassan Afzal Khan briefed the Foreign Minister about the new facilities while Ambassador Afzaal Mahmood Khan; Deputy Consul General Giyan Chand and other consulate staff were also present. Qureshi came to Dubai on February 16 on a two-day tour to visit Expo 2020 Dubai and to interact with the community.

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Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (first from left), Consul General Hassan Afzal Khan, Ambassador Afzaal Mahmood and Deputy Consul General Giyan Chand during the media briefing at the consulate on Thursday. Image Credit: Ashfaq Ahmed, Senior Assistant Editor

One token for all procedures

One-window operation for passport renewal means that the applicants will not have to stand in three to four queues to complete the process, as was the practice before. Now, they will take one token number to complete all the procedures including filing the application, biometrics, photographs, verification and signing of application. Online passport renewal is yet another convenient option.

Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Minister Qureshi advised the mission staff to be courteous with the Pakistanis visiting the consulate to get various services. “I have noticed improvement in the attitude of our staff at the diplomatic missions but they need to further improve. Give overseas Pakistanis respect and handle their cases efficiently to ensure high standards,” he reiterated.

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A large number of Pakistani journalists turned up at the Pakistani Consulate in Dubai during the Foreign Minister Qureshi's briefing followed by the inauguration of new counsellor services hall. Image Credit: Ashfaq Ahmed, Senior Assistant Editor

Increasing capacity

The consulate, which has been striving to get approval to construct a new building for more than a decade, has been struggling to make best use of the available spaces. “We have refurbished the counsellor hall with more seating capacity for the increasing number of visitors,” Giyan Chand, Deputy Consul General told Gulf News. He said more than 1,200 people visit the consulate on any working day. At an average, between 500 to 600 come for passport renewal, 200 to 250 for ID cards, around 100 to 150 for document attestations, around 50 for visa applications and almost similar numbers of welfare services.

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“We have also increased the capacity of our call centre with 14 telephone lines. Earlier, we could handle only 150 calls but now we are able to receive more than 1000 calls every day. Our communication services have definitely improved in the recent months,” he added.

Chand, however, advised the people to also use the consulate app ‘PakinDubai’ to taken benefits of various services offered online.

A senior diplomat told Gulf News that there is an immediate need to expand the facilities at the consulate because the existing consulate building was built in 1982 when the population of Pakistanis in the UAE was around 120,000 but now it has increased to around 1.6 million. The building is also in bade shape and cannot cope with the huge rush of people every day. At least three constructions plans have so far been presented by the successive consul generals to the Pakistan government since 2009 but the project is still delayed pending approval.

The consulate, he said, is also under-staffed as the positions for the two community welfare counsellors who interact with the blue-collar workers, have been vacant for more than a year.