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Sunday, March 7, 2021

Pakistanis complain of overcrowding at Doha embassy

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Open house at the Embassy of Pakistan in Qatar
Open house at the Embassy of Pakistan in Qatar

Pakistani embassy officials in Qatar have sought to reassure concerned community members this week about overcrowding at the mission.

Hours-long waits at the embassy have become common in recent months, particularly at the payment counter.

One national named Imran Khan said the problem is that no system is in place to manage the queue or give tokens to visitors.

Speaking to Doha News, the engineer said:

“My friends and I took a piece of paper and started giving out numbers to people in line. We asked them to cooperate so we could all move faster and they did. We just need a system in place.”

Payment issue

Ambassador Shahzad Ahmad said that he was aware of the delays and said they had been going on for the past seven months.

For many people, payment has been the biggest issue. Anyone who wants to apply for newly required machine-readable passports or process other documents must submit their fees in advance.

Previously, visitors could pay at Doha Bank’s City Center’s mall branch, but this arrangement has been canceled due to undisclosed reasons.

The ambassador also said the delays had to do with the rapidly growing Pakistani expat population. He said that the embassy used to see 60-70 people a day but now sees up to 400.

Pakistan flag
Pakistan flag

As of February, the community consisted of some 115,000 nationals working in various sectors.

However, last summer, the Pakistani government said it was training some 200,000 of its people to work as blue-collar workers in Qatar in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup.

Solutions

Ahmad added that the embassy is working with Doha Bank to outsource payment to other branches.

He said:

“We are in talks with Doha Bank to allow people to pay in different branches, whether in Um Saeed or City Center or elsewhere, to activate online payment and payment through the mobile app. We are also gathering quotations on how much an automatic numbering system may cost.”

While many agreed these changes would be beneficial, some said the embassy should work to implement solutions sooner.

Open house at the Embassy of Pakistan in Qatar
Open house at the Embassy of Pakistan in Qatar

“Even if it’s not an automatic (system), just somebody standing and giving out written tokens will also help,” Khan said.

Others suggested having at least one official from the embassy monitor the queues to ensure order, and having the payment counter open earlier to clear out visitors more quickly.

Thoughts?

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