E-passport to be issued within two months

NA panel rejects proposal to amend CNIC unblocking procedure


Our Correspondent March 27, 2019
Pakistani passport. PHOTO:EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior was informed that Directorate General Immigration and Passport would introduce an innovative E-Passport System within the next two months to ensure maximum facilities to applicants.

“The system has been developed at a cost of Rs534 million and can be described as clean, secure and fully automated,” Passport and Immigration Director-General Ishrat Ali told a parliamentary body meeting chaired by MNA Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz on Wednesday.

In a briefing regarding performance and new projects of the directorate, the DG said the new system, having a chip, would help improve security. He said both the new and old systems would be run simultaneously. However, initially the fee under the E-Passport System would be a bit higher.

He said in view of increasing demand, the directorate has proposed an allocation of Rs244.73 million for the year 2019-20 to establish regional passport offices in Mandi Bahauddin, Sukkur, Muzaffarabad, Sialkot, Abbottabad and Bannu.

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Of the total allocation, Rs150 million have been sought for the Immigration Passport Complex (IMPASS). The meeting was informed that FIA as part of its campaign nabbed 2,675 human smugglers during 2018 while the number of Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) interceptions was 3,724 during 2018.

The number of such interceptions during 2017 was 1,727.  NADRA director-general (operations) informed the committee that all measures were being adopted to facilitate those seeking the Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs) and other services.

He said the mega facilitation centres, running in major cities of the country round the clock, are providing state of the art facilities to the CNIC seekers and helping to meet the growing rush.

Upon request of some lawmakers, the DG said, the authority has established its centres at different tehsil levels. However, mobile vans and motorcycles can be sent to remote parts of the country to get the citizens registered.

The meeting was also informed that special committees have been constituted at deputy commissioner level in districts to decide CNIC cases which have been blocked during re-verification process.

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The DG said 38,682 blocked CNICs have been cleared while 1,23,000 blocked cards are still in process of clearing. Earlier, the members demanded that the implementation report of projects under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) be submitted to the Committee on a monthly basis.

Chitrali’s amendment bill rejected

Meanwhile, the committee rejected a bill moved by MNA Abdul Akbar Chitrali to amend the procedure to unblock CNICs after opposition from NADRA.  “There is no need for this bill because NARDA is already working on the aspects included in the bill,” said the committee chairman.

Chitrali walked out in protest. Earlier, he said the CNICs of the people of his area were being blocked. “NADRA is sitting idle and doing nothing about it,” he said.

NADRA acting chairman said it is a reality that Afghan citizens are residing in Pakistan.  “Cards of people, who have more than one identity card, have been blocked. Cards are blocked on the reports of intelligence agencies. People have given fake degrees to restore cards.

“It is not possible that Afghani card be kept along with Pakistani card. Of the blocked CNICs, 90% belong to Afghans. With the new government in power, numerous matters are improving,” he said.

MNAs Sher Akbar Khan, Ijaz Ahmed Shah, Karamat Ali Khokhar, Talib Hussain Nakai, Akhtar Mengal, Shah Zain Bugti, Iftikharul Hassan, Nadeem Abbas, Agha Rafiullah, Yousaf Talpur, Abdul Qadir Patel, and Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali attended the meeting.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Interior, Immigration and Passport Office, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) were also present.

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