LAHORE – The PIA has introduced special Umrah fares and the new price of return ticket from Karachi is Rs40,000 and Rs48,000 from other cities inclusive of taxes and fuel surcharge. The decision was taken during a meeting held at the PIA Head Office to facilitate the Ummrah pilgrims and the offer will be valid until May 31. PIA Chairman Lt General (r) Asif Yasin Malik directed the airline officials to provide maximum facilities to Umrah passengers. Though the PIA has reduced its Ummrah fare, the 1.5 millions intending Ummrah pilgrims have become rolling stone between the Immigration Department and passport offices to get passport, losing hope of availing the PIA offer. The Immigration and Passport Directorate does not have lamination papers for printing passports as 1.5 million passport seekers have got their applications processed in passport offices across the country but their passports are pending due to the unavailability of papers. Sources in the Immigration and Passport Directorate say that the government has placed the order for getting passport paper and the crisis will be ended by three weeks. The applicants who have submitted their passport papers two to three months back were still waiting for passports. The Immigration and Passport Directorate has categorised the applicants seeking passports and applications of only Ummrah pilgrims, students and patients are being entertained. An officer at the Lahore Garden Town passport office said that processing of common applicants was almost banned. Sources in the Ministry of Interior say that import of passport paper was delayed because the former interior minister was trying to get the paper contract for his brother. People say that how they can avail the discounted ticket offer when they have no passport. The PIA offer will be over by the end of passport crisis.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 13-Apr-2013 here.