ISLAMABAD: Pakistani citizens will be issued e-passports by the next year to curb rampant forgery of travelling documents and also human trafficking.
The interior minister approved the launch of e-passport project while chairing a high-level meeting at the ministry office on Friday. The digital documents would be fully available by 2017.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan observed that forgery and misuse of Pakistani travelling document was a matter of serious concern and had immensely damaged the national image.
He said the methods and sophistication through which human traffickers were forging passports needed to be curbed. Introduction of e-passports that can neither be forged nor copied would be the most important step in this regard.
“We will ensure the elimination of human trafficking from the Pakistani soil with the introduction of e-passports,” Nisar believed.
The Immigration and Passports director-general gave a detailed briefing to the interior minister on various features of the e-passport.
A microchip with all biometric information of an individual would be embedded in each e-passport to help authenticate the identity of the traveller. The passport can also accept additional information that may be required in the future and can only be added by the Pakistani immigration and passport authorities.
Chaudhry Nisar directed the DG to acquire an in-house digital printing machine with the latest printing technology to cater to the needs of printing e-passports and to ensure quality control.
The interior minister also announced a six-month extension in the deadline to revalidate manual weapon licences issued by Islamabad.
The extension to commence from June 1 will be considered the final, and is aimed at allowing all genuine gun owners to get their licences validated via the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).
After the deadline, all manual licences would automatically stand cancelled.
By December last year, over 180,000 gun permits were computerised and validated by the interior ministry. Over 8,000 fake licences were detected during the revalidation drive. The minister directed the officers to register FIRs against fake-licence holders and initiate an inquiry with the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) help.
S Arabia deports 43
Meanwhile, a batch of 43 Pakistanis arrived in Islamabad from Saudi Arabia after being deported from the Arab Kingdom.
All of these deportees had lost their passports in Saudi Arabia and were issued emergency passports.
Moreover, four people were offloaded from their flights by the immigration authorities over suspicious travelling portfolios. The men had no hotel bookings and insufficient funds to travel besides having low profiles, the FIA officers said. Three men were travelling to Brazil while another was leaving for Malaysia.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2016.