The long-standing issue of granting diplomatic status to grade 17 officials of Passport and Immigration Directorate posted abroad in passport cells of Pakistani missions has not yet been decided and that is causing grave impediments in smooth functioning of their official duties.
According to the sources in the interior ministry, the matter relating to granting them diplomatic status was time and again raised by the head of missions in their communications with high officials, but the matter is still in abeyance due to a callous attitude on the part of relevant officials.
In response to the position sought by the interior ministry, Pakistan ambassador in France had reported in 2013 that presently, IMPASS appoints officials of grade 17 and below to handle the issuance of machine-readable passports in their missions abroad. However, so far, they have not been able to determine their diplomatic status.
He went on to add that in his opinion their status should be determined at the earliest so that they could operate in accordance with the Vienna Conventions. Amongst all other members of a mission, the officers dealing with the passports are the most vulnerable, he said. At times, the applicants become rude and unpredictable, he said, and added that this could lead to an ugly situation.
He asserted that their status must be determined as a diplomatic agent. The designation MRP in-charge has no legal value and relevance to the Vienna’s Convention. It can only be corrected if they are declared as a diplomatic or counsellor agent for embassies and consulates respectively.
The ambassador strongly recommended that the diplomatic status for the officers of grade 17 posted in missions abroad may be determined as third secretary (Passport). This will enable them to get the requisite identification papers from the host countries and also enjoy full amenities and privileges, he added.
Moreover, they would also get legal cover in the performance of their duties. It is worth mentioning here that the employees of other departments who are posted abroad, they and their families are issued red passports, whereas the employees of the directorate are issued blue passport that creates working hurdles in the performance of their duties.