Ahsan Iqbal—Interior Minister made an announcement on Wednesday that the Passport and Immigration Offices would start issuing e-passports from early next year.
A contract had been signed previously between Usman Bajwa—Director General Passports and Immigration and a representative from a private French firm—Gemalto. This contract was signed during a ceremony that took place at the Ministry of Interior.
The e-passports got their name because of the microchip which is embedded in the document and contains all the relevant biometric details of the traveler. The device meant to store the biometric information in the passport data page is referred to as the personalization system.
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The chip assists in the identification of the traveler authentication. Officials are hopeful that the introduction of this new system would prevent the counterfeit of the travel documents.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan—the former Interior Minister had approved the e-passports introduction last year. The project was to be fully functional from the present year, but many questions were raised relating the transparency of the procurement process which led to delay. The allegations were that the rules were obviously ignored, revealing a shift towards the firm proposing the system at about the cost of $800,000 which was more than the lowest bidder cost.
Mr. Iqbal said that the e-passports would at first be issued to the diplomats beginning from the March 2018 and then would be available for all the citizens by June 2018.