Passport Applications Facing Delays in Delivery Time 

Residents in Islamabad are expressing concerns about significant delays in passport issuance at the Executive Passport Office in Blue Area, Islamabad.

Ordinary passport delivery, which should typically take 10 days, is now taking more than a month. Similarly, the processing time for urgent passports has increased from five to 15 days. Even the fast-track passport delivery period has been stretched from two to five days.

While the official website of the Directorate General of Immigration & Passports states that urgent passports should be issued within “five working days,” reports from individuals reveal a different reality.

One individual, an employee of ProPakistani, shared a troubling experience. Despite paying for urgent passport processing, he was informed by staff that his passport would take 10 days to be issued. 

This is slightly faster than the standard 15-day processing time for regular passports.

This situation raises questions about the justification for the price difference between the two services when the processing times are quite similar due to delays.

Interestingly, the receipt received by the employee initially indicated a five-day processing time. However, a Passport Office worker crossed out this information and wrote “10 days” instead.

Such delays, particularly in urgent requests, create significant inconvenience for citizens who rely on expedited services, especially in urgent situations.

A Surge in Passport Applications

The backlog of passport applications is reported to be the main cause of these extended wait times. Sources suggest that the surge in passport applications has led to a more than twofold increase in delivery time.

As a result, regular passport delivery now takes around 7 days.

Additionally, delays have been observed in the series of text messages sent to applicants regarding the various stages of passport processing. The automated text message system on candidates’ mobile phones has generated two messages.

The first message indicates that passport processing is complete once the documents are collected and received for printing. The second message informs applicants about the printing and delivery date of the passport to the appropriate authority.

However, the delay in sending these messages has left applicants without timely updates on the status of their passport processing.

This delay is notably affecting residents in cities like Karachi, leading to prolonged wait times for passport issuance.

Daily passport applications have soared to around 40,000, exceeding the usual range of 24,000 to 26,000.

To address this delay, the printing period for passports has been extended to a 24-hour operation, with staff working without days off. However, this adjustment is struggling to keep up with the overwhelming demand.

In 2013, Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) raised concerns about excessive delays in passport issuance and urged the judiciary to intervene. TIP highlighted that according to the standard procedure, regular passports should be delivered within 12 to 15 working days, while urgent passports should take five to seven working days.

TIP revealed that the consistent delivery schedule has been disrupted due to power outages, machinery breakdowns, and paper shortages. 

Furthermore, there were reports suggesting that months-long delays were linked to attempts to award contracts without proper tendering procedures. 

The passport office aimed to bypass rules set by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) and procure passport paper from a New York-based company on an unsolicited basis.

Considering these issues, it is advised that the applicants apply in advance to avoid delays.

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