Pakistani citizens looking to secure new passports are facing a bizarre hurdle in the process — lamination paper shortage.
Reports say the country has been hit by a massive scarity of lamination paper that has led to a nationwide shortage of the travel document. Thousands who need to fly out of the country for study, work, or leisure are now struggling to obtain the green-coloured book with no end to their ordeal in sight, a report by the Express Tribune said.
Students in Pakistan are stuck at home with approved visas to pursue degrees in UK or Italy, waiting on their passports to arrive. Many are scared the endless wait might lead to them losing this opportunities, threatening to shatter their aspirations.
“My student visa for Italy was recently approved and I had to be in the country in October. However, the unavailability of a passport robbed me of an opportunity to leave,” Hira, a student, said.
The country, which imports lamination papers from France, faced similar delay in printing in 2013 due to the The Directorate General of Immigration & Passports (DGI&P) owing money to printers and a lack of lamination papers.
Qadir Yar Tiwana, the Director General for Media of the Ministry of Interior, assured that the government was trying to end the crisis as soon as possible. “The situation will soon be under control and passport issuance will continue as normal,” he said.
Many residents complained of receiving messages from the DGI&P telling them their passport was ready for pickup but when they reached the passport office they were turned away. “Ever since September the passport office has been stating that your passport will come next week but multiple weeks have passed and they keep repeating the same,” said Muhammad Imran, a resident of Peshawar.
Reportedly, the passport offices in Pakistani cities are also clueless about when the process could be restarted. A senior officer Peshawar passport office, told The Express Tribune, that they could presently only process 12 to 13 passports per day as compared to 3,000 to 4,000 passports per day earlier. Their best guess? Another month or two of wait.