DUBAI: The Pakistan government, to facilitate its expatriate citizens in the Gulf emirate of UAE, has sought to halve the time it takes to process a passport after the Interior Ministry instituted a decentralising process to print passports in the UAE.
Currently, the waiting periods for a Pakistani to have their passportre issued extend to more than two weeks after initial documentation is filed. The process involves sending all data to Pakistan to print their passport, resulting in delays and inconvenience, especially for emergency cases.
"The cost of a printing machine is about $25,000 [Dh91,827] and we found that sending the passport for printing to Pakistan is not only expensive, it also causes delays. We are working at speeding up the process so that machines can be installed here," Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the media at the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai on Monday.
He added that staff at the consulate and embassy in UAE would also be doubled to speed up the process of issuing passports.
"I was told about staff shortage and it will be doubled. We have also cleared a budget for another building and asked the ambassador to locate another building within the consulate’s vicinity where they can process Nadra [National Database & Registration Authority] identity cards as well. All these measures will avoid delays and long queues," Malik hoped.
The visiting interior minister said that efforts were ongoing to ensure convenient procedures for overseas Pakistanis. "For any difficulties that they face, any police issues, we have a separate section where overseas people can call."
Appreciating the contribution of 1.2 million Pakistanis who reside in the UAE, he said they were remitting as much as $2.3 million to Pakistan, urging the expatriates to avoid the under-the-radar hawala transactions.
"We have also noticed that hawala transactions have reduced a lot and we urge people to send their money through proper channels only," he urged, with a view at regularising remittances, which would in turn boost the exchequer and present a more rosy picture on the balance sheets.