Pakistani citizens are facing trouble obtaining their passports due to a shortage of lamination paper in the country, reported The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
The lamination paper is an essential component in passports and is usually imported from France, said the report, citing Pakistan’s Directorate General of Immigration & Passports (DGI&P). The paper shortage has led to a nationwide scarcity of passports.
People across the country are distraught as their hopes of studying abroad or moving out of the cash-strapped country have been shattered.
Several students who enrolled in universities in places like the UK or Italy were unable to go there as they did not get their passports on time. They told The Express Tribune that it was unfair that they should pay the price for a government department’s inefficiency.
Qadir Yar Tiwana, the Director General for Media of the Ministry of Interior, said the Pakistani government is working to resolve the crisis and the situation will soon be brought under control. However, people remain skeptical as they have been unable to obtain their travel documents.
Amir told The Express Tribune that he received a text from the DGI&P in October saying his passport was ready to be picked up but when he reached the concerned office the staff told him that his passport had not arrived yet.
Muhammad Imran also said the passport office had been promising him since September that his document would come the next week, but several weeks had passed and it had not arrived yet.
Regional passport offices confirmed that they are processing a significantly reduced number of passports daily — from 3,000 to 4,000 passports per day earlier to 12 to 13 now. The situation remains uncertain, leaving many applicants in a state of limbo.
According to the report, the current situation is not an isolated incident. In 2013, passport printing in Pakistan came to a halt due to DGI&P owing money to printers and a lack of lamination papers.