Left behind: Obtaining passports a battle for Waziristan’s tribesmen

Say securing verification from political administration is a cumbersome process.


Say securing verification from political administration is a cumbersome process . ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

DERA ISMAIL KHAN:


Having suffered a decade-long war on terror, tribesmen of Waziristan are now facing hurdles in working abroad due to difficulties in obtaining a Pakistani passport.


Residents of North Waziristan go to Bannu while tribesmen from South Waziristan to DI Khan to renew their old passports or apply for new ones. However, the process often takes an unreasonable amount of time, complained locals.

Tribesmen’s passports are processed after they produce verification (no-objection certificate) from the concerned political administration. “Obtaining the verification can take many months, even when someone has given a bribe,” claimed Abdullah, a resident of Wana.

Abdullah, who works as a truck driver in the United Arab Emirates, added the passport can only be obtained after undergoing a difficult process and spending a large amount of money.

“I visited the passport office in Bannu time and again, but have been unable to get one for the last seven months,” said Sher Muhammad, who came to Bannu from Miranshah, North Waziristan. “On each visit, I spend on travel, hotels, food and other necessities.”

According to Muhammad, visas issued to several tribesmen are wasted due to the delay, with their business and work in Gulf countries suffering or being distributed elsewhere as a result. “We are poor people and cannot afford this attitude of the government,” he said while waiting in line at the passport office in Bannu.

Waziristan’s tribesmen have long since complained obtaining verification from the political administration, even when they have national identity cards, is unjust and discriminatory. Women are faced with an even more difficult situation due to the cultural restraints in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

In 2009, a passport office was set up in Miranshah, North Waziristan. However, due to unknown reasons, this office became defunct.

When asked, Bannu passport office director Rahim Khan said every effort was being taken to make the process easy for tribesmen trying to obtain passports. “However, the rush is causing delays,” he claimed, also blaming the late delivery of passports from Islamabad. “This issue has now been solved, and reopening the passport office in Miranshah will also make things easier for the tribesmen.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2013.

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