Resident’s in Faisalabad have said that they find it nearly impossible to acquire a passport from the local passport office.
The office has reportedly become a permanent nuisance for applicants, who said that they had been denied a passport for months on end even though they made weekly visits to the centre.
“I have been sent back to add something or the other in my forms at least eight times. I still don’t have a passport. Every time I come here I ask the passport official to tell me what else I need to complete but they don’t,” said passport applicant Shahram Khan.
Residents said that their documents were usually rejected on flimsy grounds. “Sometimes they say the picture isn’t clear enough even though they were the ones to take it, other times they say the colour of the ink I used to fill the form was incorrect,” Musarrat Bibi said. “It is nearly impossible to get a passport without greasing the palms of at least a couple of officials. Otherwise they can really make you run in circles for weeks,” she added.
Residents blamed Passport Assistant Director Muhammad Rafique, who was transferred from Faisalabad to Islamabad on alleged corruption charges. Applicants pointed out that although the Federal Interior Ministry had set down a schedule for issuing a computerised passport this was not being followed.
“There is no schedule. Some of us have been waiting for over six months. Others have received their passports in weeks. It all depends on who you know and how much money you are willing to pay,” said Rahmat Shah.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2011.