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Canada’s Pakistani Currency

by Ali Moeen Nawazish
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ali moin nawazish

A few weeks ago, one of my acquaintances residing in Canada had to suddenly go to Pakistan due to his father’s deteriorating health. While the rest of his family remained in Canada, his father fell seriously ill during his stay in Pakistan. Their children, residing in Canada, arranged tickets for them to travel to Pakistan a few days after their father. However, they learned that both their children’s passports had expired. The matter became more complicated because one child held Pakistani citizenship while the other was Canadian.

During those days, news was circulating in Pakistan about delays in obtaining new passports due to the shortage of passport lamination paper. In the midst of this, they called me, expressing their distress. Initially, I thought their worry was about the Pakistani passport, but it turned out they were more concerned about the Canadian passport. When I informed them about the delay in issuing the new passport due to lamination paper in Pakistan, they mentioned that Pakistan’s High Commission extends the passport’s expiration date in case of emergencies, which did not bother them. However, the issue was regarding the Canadian passport.

Concerned for their distress, I searched online for a new Canadian passport. The website indicated that individuals with an impending passport expiration and intending to travel in the next few days could submit their ticket copy to the passport office to expedite the issuance of a new passport, along with additional fees, and receive the new passport the following day. I thought providing them with this information would ease their worries.

The next day, when they submitted the ticket copy and requested the issuance of a new passport at the Canadian Passport Office, the officials informed them that they could collect their passport the next day as their flight was scheduled four days later, and they wouldn’t face any trouble due to the passport.

Thinking their problem was resolved, they went to the Pakistan High Commission in Toronto to extend the expiration date of their other child’s passport. The greatest quality of the Pakistani High Commission is that it turns any corner of the world into a miniature Pakistan. Despite their initial concerns about travelling in urgent situations, the High Commission promptly extended the passport’s expiration date without prior appointments. However, when they presented their case to the officials, they were interrogated about why they had come without arranging an advance ticket if their father was ill. The officials raised questions about their father’s illness, portraying a lack of empathy.

The delay in reaching the Pakistani High Commission resulted in their advanced ticket becoming a problem. Despite their love for their home country and their pride in it, even after residing in Canada for seven to eight years, they hadn’t applied for a Pakistani passport. Now, they were unable to return to their country. They were told that they couldn’t extend the passport’s expiration date since there was legal capacity available, and even if they applied for a new passport, it could take three to four weeks.

When they asked the staff for their names and who provided all this information, they refused to disclose their identities. I had some familiarity with the Pakistani High Commission in Toronto. When I called there and explained the whole issue to my contact, I discovered that the conversation had taken place between that family and my contact. They told me that if their father had been seriously ill, why did they book an advanced ticket? Their issue was not about their father’s illness but about not wanting to lose their ticket. I was astonished at how bureaucrats sit as judges without knowing the reality.

They didn’t attempt to understand the family’s distress, which arose due to a travel emergency. The next day, after collecting the Canadian passport, they contacted a prominent personality at the Pakistan High Commission in Canada, who had earlier refused to extend the passport expiration date. Suddenly, upon a phone call, he extended the expiration date.

On one hand, the Canadian passport office issued a new passport within a day after checking the ticket. On the other hand, the Pakistani High Commission raised questions about the father’s illness, presented various interpretations, and finally extended the passport’s expiration date over a phone call. Although the Pakistan High Commission was also aware of the issue of the shortage of passport lamination paper, they chose to create a drama instead of facilitating passport extensions. It’s regrettable to encounter such incidents, but what’s more regrettable is the need to plead with the High Commission even for lawful and legitimate affairs. Now, I am completely sure that the family who hadn’t applied for Canadian citizenship after years will return to acquire it, so they won’t face similar situations in the future. Because God forbid, if they have to face such a situation again, it will be the Canadian passport office that will assist them.

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