Federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has announced that the Directorate of Immigration and Passport (I&P) will start issuing E-Passports next year from March 2018. The minister was addressing the inaugural ceremony of e-passport at the Interior Ministry, Islamabad.

An agreement was signed between Director General I&P Usman Bajwa and representative of French company Gemalto for preparation of E-Passports at the Ministry of Interior. The French company has been declared successful in the tender issued for E-Passport project.

Addressing the signing ceremony, Ahsan Iqbal said that E-Passports will first be issued for diplomats and officials in March 2018 and then will be available for citizens from June 2018. “This step will improve image of Pakistani passport across the world,” he remarked.

The minister stated that the Interior Ministry had taken several measures during the last two years to improve the passport system, by issuance of online passports, mobile payments and executive passports.

It is worth mentioning that the former Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had approved the introduction of E-Passports last year. The project was supposed to be fully operational by the current year, but questions had been raised regarding transparency of procurement process which resulted in its delay.

Not to mention that an E-Passport is a biometric passport that has an embedded electronic microprocessor chip containing biometric information that can be used to authenticate the identity of passport holder or traveller.

It is believed that the E-Passport will help in providing protection against identity theft and to protect the personal privacy of a traveller. This E-Passport would ensure safe and secure travel and faster immigration process.