In Pakistan, a severe shortage of lamination paper is causing a major disruption in the issuance of passports, leaving thousands of citizens in limbo. This unusual situation has resulted in a nationwide crisis, as individuals seeking to travel abroad for various reasons, including education, work, and leisure, are unable to obtain their passports.
The Express Tribune reported that the green-colored passport, a crucial document for international travel, is now an elusive item for many. The scarcity of lamination paper, essential for the production of passports, has significantly slowed down the process, affecting students and professionals alike.
Pakistani students with approved visas for countries like the UK and Italy find themselves stranded, unable to commence their studies abroad due to delayed passport issuance. The situation threatens to derail their academic and career plans, as they anxiously await a resolution to this bureaucratic impasse.
The root of the problem traces back to Pakistan’s reliance on imported lamination paper, primarily sourced from France. This is not the first time the country has faced such a challenge; similar issues arose in 2013 due to financial disputes between The Directorate General of Immigration & Passports (DGI&P) and the printers.
Despite these recurring issues, government officials, including Qadir Yar Tiwana from the Ministry of Interior, have expressed optimism about resolving the crisis promptly. Amidst this bureaucratic turmoil, many Pakistanis have reported conflicting information from the DGI&P. Citizens who were notified that their passports were ready for collection were later turned away at passport offices.
Muhammad Imran, a resident of Peshawar, voiced his frustration over the repeated delays and lack of clear communication from the authorities. In a telling indicator of the severity of the situation, passport offices across Pakistan are currently processing a mere fraction of their normal capacity.
A senior official from the Peshawar passport office revealed that they are only able to process about 12 to 13 passports daily, a stark contrast to the usual 3,000 to 4,000. Officials estimate that the wait could extend for another month or two, prolonging the uncertainty and inconvenience faced by thousands.