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A Presidential Ordinance is likely to be issued to convert the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports (DGI&P) into an authority only to accommodate Interior Secretary Khawaja Siddique Akbar, who would be its first chairperson after his retirement in June this year.
The law Ministry has recently sent a copy of the Immigration and Passport Authority Ordinance, 2013 to the Prime Minister Secretariat after necessary vetting that would be further forwarded to the President for issuance.
The sources aware of the development informed that the Ordinance, a copy of which is available with TheNation, had been drafted on the proposal of the Ministry of Interior just to accommodate present Secretary Interior Khawaja Siddique Akbar who is retiring in June this year after reaching the age of superannuation.
Well-placed sources in the Ministry of Interior said that the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports (DG I&P) and Passports has created the present crisis of passports artificially on the behest of the Interior Ministry to pave a smooth way for the issuance of the Ordinance.
The ministry has conveyed to the PM Secretariat and the presidency that the issuance of Ordinance would be indispensable to steer the Passports Directorate out of the present crisis. Presently, DG I&P is the subordinate body of Ministry of Interior.
An official of the Ministry of Interior informed that another purpose of the issuance of Ordinance was to absorb all the employees of the DGI&P into the authority who were working there on deputation. Former federal government led by PPP had deputed these officials in he Passports Directorate because of their political connections.
Similarly, a number of officials of the Machine Readable Passport (PRP) Project were working on deputation in the directorate including his Project Directorate Maqbool Ahmed Gondal. Gondal, an officer of Accounts Group had not left the directorate even after his promotion to next t grade and is a close relative of former PPP federal minister Nazar Mohammad Gondal.
Syed Wajid Bokhari, an officer of Commerce Group was deputed as DG on deputation by the PP government but he was never removed from the post even after the passage of three years of his posting. Both were close aides of the former Interior Minister Rehman Malik as well.
According to the Ordinance, the federal government, not later than thirty days after the commencement of the Ordinance, shall establish an Authority to be known as the Immigration and Passport Authority. The Authority shall be a corporate body and consist of a Chairperson with five members including legal, finance, operations, technical and administration as well as human resource.
The Chairperson shall be an eminent professional of known integrity and competence with substantial experience in the field of immigration, passports, registration, law, computer, science, engineering, business, management, finance, accounting, economics, civil or military administration. The Chairperson and members shall be appointed for a term of three years and shall be eligible for appointment for another similar term or terms and shall retire on attaining the age of sixty-five.
The object and reasons of the Ordinance say that a dedicated independent organization for handling immigration and passport-related matters and operations of the Federal Government is the emergent need of the time for efficiently and effectively administering the related laws and providing related services to the general public.
Under the Ordinance, the Authority shall be successor of DG I&P and shall continue to possess and shall accordingly perform and exercise all functions, powers and capacities that stood vested in or delegated or assigned to the DGI&P by any primary or subordinate law or executive order or instrument in force immediately before the commencement of this Ordinance. Secretary Interior Khawaja Siddique Akbar could not be contacted, as Ministry of Interior had no officially spokesman.