The number of counters and staff at both the Embassy of Pakistan in the capital and its Consulate General in Dubai will be increased to help eliminate long queues for passport renewal and other consular services.
The good news for the expatriate community came from Ambassador Jamil Ahmed Khan as a gift to mark the National Day today.
While extending his greetings to the community on the occasion, the ambassador said: “Once I took charge as ambassador of this embassy, I found it to be very painful. What happened was, there was a sudden surge in crowd because the UAE Government imposed restrictions on the renewal of visas on manual passports (which we had earlier). It was an absolutely right decision because the entire world is switching over to machine-readable passports (MRPs). Khan said both the number of counters and staff at the two diplomatic missions will be increased to help provide smooth and comfortable services to the community and for those applying for visit visas.
Many among the 1.5 million-strong Pakistani community in the UAE had manual passports and the sudden surge in crowd happened because of the change in the UAE law, according to Khan.
He added that the facility in the capital can cater to not more than 250 passports a day, while the Dubai facility can handle about 550. The load in the Capital has almost doubled making it difficult to process the applications.
“Once I realised the extend of the crisis, I immediately took up the matter with the Ministry of Interior, with the Foreign Office and with the Prime Minister and President secretariats (in Pakistan). I want to break the good news to the community. We were able to get the approval to double the staff both at the Embassy here and the Consulate General in Dubai.”
Khan said he was also able to get the approval to double the equipment required to help ease the process of issuing passports. He said by the next month or latest within six weeks, the embassy will be able to sort out the problem and that the queues will be a thing of the past.
“We have already reduced it by stepping up our work hours,” he said.
“But with the new approval which I was lucky enough to get, we would be able to sort out the problem. There will be more counters and more equipment and more manpower.”
The ambassador also said he has drawn a new map to redesign the counters at the two diplomatic missions. Contracts for the same will soon be awarded. The Pakistan government has approved the amount for renovation.
“There will be easy-to-approach counters to swiftly deal with the applicants. No more zigzag counters or procedures.” About the delay in delivery of passports, Khan said unfortunately eight out of 10 MRP printing machines are currently malfunctioning which is why it takes about 50 days to deliver a passport. “But that too will soon be dealt with, and I have already written to the Director General Passports and the Ministry of Interior in Islamabad,” he added. — firstname.lastname@example.org