Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pakistani passport validity extended from five to 10 years

 Dubai: Pakistani expatriates in the UAE are rejoiced over their government’s decision to extend the validity period of their passports from five to 10 years.

According to new rule, the passports issued after September 15 will be valid for 10 years. Applications will also have the choice to get a bigger 100-page passport.

“It will be a great relief as we don’t have to run to our diplomatic missions to renew passports every now and then and stand in queues for hours,” said Haji Naveed Younus, a Pakistani businessman living in the UAE for the last 35 years. He said the government should also improve facilities at the missions which are unable to cope with heavy rush of people applying for passports and ID cards.“

Mohammad Shahid Bhatti, a businessman in Dubai, also appreciated the new move and urged the government that passport issuance time should also be reduced as currently it takes more than three to four weeks to get a passport. “Passports should be delivered within a week,” he said.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced extension in the validity of passports from five to 10 years.

However, Pakistani mission in the UAE has not so far received any intimation in this regard. “We are waiting for the instructions from the government regarding the new passport policy,” Tariq Iqbal Somoro, Pakistani Consul General in Dubai, told Gulf News. He said the consulate would inform the community about the procedure and revised fee structure if any accordingly.

Malik has also launched an Integrated Border Management System (IBMS) at Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore. The IBMS replaced the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) and is meant to enhance security procedure at the airports in Pakistan.

The IBMS software allows features missing in PISCES such as the integration of biometric data and giving access to visa-issuing authorities. IBMS, initially launched in 2001, is currently operational at Benazir Bhutto International Airport Islamabad, Jinnah International Airport Karachi, Bacha Khan International Airport Peshawar and Torkham Land Route.

Malik said that the system had been developed with the cooperation of Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) through which the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) would have an access to NADRA records.

Malik said that IBMS had been designed according to country’s immigration laws and it would help prevent illegal entry, use of counterfeit documents, human smuggling and other frauds.

The minister added that IBMS had been equipped with technologies such as advance fingerprint matching, specialised handling of different categories of travellers and scalability for integration with other national databases.