Ambassador Sarfraz A Khanzada hoisting the flag on the National Day of Pakistan at the embassy.
By Salman Siddiqui/Staff Reporter
Pakistani citizens whose passports have expired can renew the same for two additional years without any extra fee, Pakistan’s ambassador to Qatar said yesterday.
Ambassador Sarfraz A Khanzada made the announcement in his address to the Pakistani community during a flag- hoisting ceremony held to celebrate the National Day of Pakistan at the embassy.
“We are very pleased to announce this facility to the people, who in recent times, have faced difficulties in getting a new passport,” he said, urging Pakistani citizens in Qatar to keep all their documents in order, especially passports and the Pakistani ID cards of themselves and their family members.
“Usually, people worry about the validity of their work visa and forget about the expiry dates on their passports. When their passports expire, they come to the embassy saying the process is too slow and use harsh language with our staff. Let’s make a promise on our National Day that all of us will ensure that our documents are in order,” he said.
Elaborating the ambassador’s point, deputy head of mission Malik Mohamed Farooq told Gulf Times that due to some problems in the issue of new passports from Pakistan, the embassy had requested the government back home to allow them to extend the validity of passports of Pakistani citizens in Qatar so that they did not face any difficulties at their workplaces.
“We were granted permission for this. Now, any Pakistani whose passport has expired after a period of five years can get it extended for two additional years,” Farooq said.
The extension of two years will be made from the date of expiry mentioned on the passport. The extension facility will remain in place until problems related to the issue of new passports are resolved in Pakistan.
Earlier, a large number of people from the Pakistani community, including schoolchildren and women, began gathering at the embassy from 7am on the occasion of National Day. Most people wore their national dress - salwar-kameez - while some children also had the national flag painted on their cheeks. A Pakistan-Qatar friendship badge was distributed among the people.
The ceremony started with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran. The ambassador hoisted the flag in the backdrop of the national anthem, which was sung by all Pakistanis present on the occasion.
The ambassador then read out a message from Pakistan’s prime minister, which said: “We are reviving the memory of Pakistan Resolution at a time when the country heads towards parliamentary elections and the people are eager and resolute for fair, free and transparent polls in the country. I am confident that people will elect the best leadership in the forthcoming polls in the country by using their sound political acumen. Only a leadership that represents people’s aspirations and enjoys their confidence is worthy of realising the dreams of Quaid-e-Azam and the leaders of the freedom movement.”
The message from President Asif Ali Zardari said, “Pakistan Day this year will go down in the history of the country as a memorable day when the democratically elected parliament and the government completed, for the first time, its constitutionally mandated term and the nation is poised for a democratic transition. It is indeed a watershed mark and a giant leap forward in the nation’s quest for democracy, federalism and constitutionalism for which Pakistan was created. It is a manifestation of the democratic ethos of our people that the elected parliament first purged the constitution of dictatorial clauses and then completed its full five-year term. Let us on this day resolve that we will not permit anyone to trample on democratic aspirations of the people.”
The ceremony ended with prayers for peace, progress, prosperity and stability of Pakistan. Later, a traditional breakfast of halwa puri and channay was served at the gathering.