Machine-Readable Passport project not yet complete
KARACHI: The government has yet again failed to meet the deadline of Oct 18 to start work on the Machine-Readable Passport (MRP) project in the city.
The project’s office, being set up by Immigration & Passport (INP) authorities on the first floor of Awami Markaz, is still incomplete and the work is likely to exceed the deadline.
Two authorities are working on the MRP project — the INP and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). NADRA has repeatedly expressed its readiness to begin work on the project as soon as it is given the green signal, but the INP has failed to answer queries relating to the project. On Sunday evening, INP Karachi Director Ejaz Khan was reluctant to speak out and said all queries would be answered by Islamabad.. NADRA officials had previously stated that they would meet any given deadline, as long as the INP kept its promise of providing a proper facility where passports would be issued. While the INP is required to construct an entire building, which will serve as the provincial headquarters of MRP, it has to set up at least five temporary offices to facilitate people in its absence, according to an agreement between the INP and NADRA. NADRA will look after the installation of the computer systems, and the INP will be the final issuing authority. However, all this has yet to materialise because of a tussle between the two authorities, sources say.
The sources said the INP and NADRA had been at loggerheads since the MRP project was launched. The INP wanted international firms to put together their computer systems, the sources said.
However, the president intervened in the matter and ordered the director-general of the INP to ask NADRA for guidance. The sources say NADRA can put together the MRP’s computer system, since it has the database of all those who have computerised identity cards (CNICs). Only those having CNICs can apply for MRP.
This is the second deadline the two authorities have failed to meet. The previous deadline was Sept 15. Then also NADRA’s project director, Adeebuz Zaman Safvi, had said his office was ready to begin work. He had said NADRA in order to meet the deadline had set up three temporary offices. Mr Safvi had said the offices were built because the INP was taking time in providing either an office or the needed building.
However, the INP wanted it own premises where new passports will be issued. The new office is still not ready. Mr Safvi said on Sunday evening the NADRA’s computer systems had arrived at the site of the new office. He said he would set up the computer system after power supply began and other facilities were available.
An electrician at Awami Markaz told this reporter on Sunday wiring for power supply would take another 3-4 days. The carpenter said trays for keyboards on the desks would take another two days to complete. Boxes of monitors and other equipment were lying in the office. A source at NADRA said the INP had sent 45 of its own staff to be trained in operating the MRP office. The source said initially NADRA staff were to work with INP people. However, later the INP changed its mind and now wanted its own staff to manage the project. The source said the 45 workers would be imparted training till Wednesday.