E Mullah الیکٹرونک مُلا: The biometric passports: Is Pakistan ready for it? .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The biometric passports: Is Pakistan ready for it?

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U.S. will compromise on biometric passports - Financial Times - MSNBC.com

The US has been pushing European Union and its allies to implement the issuance of biometric passports to their nationals. I wonder if Pakistan is able and willing to do that.

Few years back I had to get a Pakistani visa for my six months old son Omar. I applied for the visa and the Pakistan Embassy in US charged a fee which was on average much higher than other embassies (I have been to Canada and UK so that's how I know). When I received my son's passport back I was very disappointed due to a number of reasons:

1. The quality of visa was so poor that it was almost coming off the passport page. It was not sticking properly.
2. By looking at and comparing the quality with other countries' visa I realized that forgers may easily make similar visas
3. I was not amused by the period for which the visa was granted to a six month old child. Although the embassy touts that they issue five year visas to foreigners of Pakistani origin they issued only 3 year visa with each entry to Pakistan for 3 months only. I had indicated in my application that my wife intends to visit Pakistan for a period of six months.

The Pakistan government is making lot of money from visa fee and should spend that money to improve its quality as well. If it cannot improve the quality of its visas, which is just one piece of paper, how can they improve the quality of passports? (I have heard the Government of Pakistan has started issuing machine readable passports; I hope they will improve the quality of visa as well). The quality of visa and the manner in which they are pasted explains how lot of illegal migrants and terror network operatives can enter into Pakistan using PCs (I heard this term in Pakistan for fake passports and visas; means photocopy visa and passports). I hope Musharraf will remove these glitches which are at this moment facilitating illegal entrants to Pakistan. Pakistan definitely needs Biometric passports and machine readable visas if it wants to win war on terror.

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