Passport applicants in major cities across Pakistan are facing a substantial increase in delivery times, with normal processing now taking 2.5 to 3 months.
Long queues have become a common sight at passport offices in Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore, Multan, and Faisalabad.
Urgent fees, intended to expedite the process, are providing only marginal relief, with delivery delays still stretching up to a couple of weeks.
The root cause of the delay is attributed to the recent shortage of lamination paper, coupled with a surge in the number of citizens seeking new passports.
Passport office officials acknowledge a significant increase in applications, creating a backlog in the printing process. The delayed procurement of lamination paper has further complicated matters.
Citizens, many of whom claim to have secured job opportunities abroad, are expressing frustration over the prolonged wait times, fearing potential job losses due to the delays in obtaining necessary travel documents. Authorities are being urged to intervene and expedite the passport delivery process.
Adding to the concerns, agents are exploiting the situation, extorting money from desperate applicants by promising expedited passport delivery.
This development comes amidst a recent system outage, underscoring the strain on the passport issuance system, a concern raised by applicants who assert that such disruptions are becoming a regular occurrence.