Large number of overseas Pakistanis is suffering as a result of inordinate delays in getting passports which could result not only in loss of jobs but also foreign remittances. Pakistan has a large number of overseas workers, which is roaming around 6.8 million across the globe. Saudi Arabia and UAE are considered to be the largest markets for Pakistanis.
During the last eight months, overseas Pakistanis remitted around US $9.23billion, of which, around US $3 billion were only from Saudi Arabia, a second home of 1.5 million Pakistanis. On the other hand, the Pakistani expatriates, living in Gulf States and Saudi Arabia, are experiencing hardships and passing sleepless nights, due to unusual delay in the issuance of passports. The level of anxiety over their prospects is high because of endless passport crisis.
If you visit any passport office in Pakistan, you can see the miseries of the passport seekers, As a result of inordinate delay in getting passports, the overseas Pakistanis are reportedly losing jobs that may cause decline in foreign remittances, which is presently around six percent of national economy.
In last December, the statement of former Interior Minister Rehman Malik to dispose of the backlog of passports appeared to be a sign of hope for these aggravated applicants. But all their hopes died down when the offices pasted hand-written announcements on the walls of passport delivery counters that the offices are still unable to entertain the applicants of ordinary passports before three months and a month for urgent passport seekers.
A large number of Pakistani expatriates, students, patients, pilgrims and business travellers are running from pillar to post for getting their passports due to the authority’s indifference to resolve the issue.
Reliable sources claim that this passport crisis was artificial as the Directorate’s revenue during the crisis had increased manifold as the passport seekers preferred to pay Rs 2000 extra as urgent fee for getting their passports on time. They said that almost 80 percent of passport seekers were now choosing ‘urgent passport option’ to get their applications processed within a month.