ISLAMABAD Intending Pakistani-American pilgrims fear that they may not proceed for Haj due to non-availability of Machine Readable Passports (MRP), thanks to ongoing tussle between the babus of Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior. Well-placed sources informed TheNation on Monday that Pakistani Americans of West Coast fear they may not proceed towards Saudi Arabia to perform Haj this year primarily due to non-availability of machine readable passport as MRP (Machine Readable Passport) section of Pakistans Consulate in Los Angeles has stopped issuing such passports. Since Pakistan Consulate, Los Angles, has stopped issuing MRP, Pakistani Americans (living in West Coast) have been compelled to travel a distance of 3,000 miles to reach New York for getting desired passport. It is pertinent to mention here that MRP is mandatory to enter Saudi Arabia to Perform Haj. It is pertinent to mention here that Government of Pakistan introduced facility of making machine readable passports a couple of years ago after investing millions of dollars. This passport serves as an identity for overseas Pakistanis also. Since Pakistan has started making machine readable passports, this facility was also introduced by the Government at Pakistans embassies and consulates overseas in a bid to provide the Overseas Pakistanis with machine readable passport. In the USA, the Government established a Machine Readable Passport Section in its Consulate in New York seven years ago in 2003. In a bid to facilitate Pakistani Americans of West Coast with modern Passport, authorities established MRP section in Pakistans Consulate in Los Angeles. According to sources, machine readable passport section has faced closure in the beginning of 2010 following transfer of its staff. Interestingly, only one officer has been running this section. Following complaints of Pakistani American, authorities dispatched Rub Nawaz, a system in-charge of MRP section, from New York to Los Angles to resume work at MRP section of Pakistani Consulate in Los Angles. However, administration of Consulate in Los Angles did not allow him to resume work. Well-informed sources disclosed on Monday that administration of Pakistani Consulate in Los Angles did so follow directions of Additional Secretary Foreign Office who argued that the officer can not resume work in MRP section until security agencies clear him for working on this position. Observing miseries of Pakistani Americans of West Coast, Pakistans Ambassador to the US Hussein Haqqani wrote a letter to Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 8, 2010 asking for letting Rub Nawaz join Pakistani Consulate as system in-charge at MRP department in Los Angeles. In a letter (a copy of letter is available with TheNation) sent to Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 2010, Pakistans Ambassador to the US Hussein Haqqani stated that despite his best efforts, MRP operation at Pakistani mission in Los Angles could not be started yet. The letter further states quoting Ambassador Haqqani that problems of applicants desirous of getting MRPs need urgent consideration. Hussein Haqqani requested Babus of Foreign Office to restart MRP operations at the Mission without further delay. On June 9, 2010, Foreign Office replied that the matter of deputation of Rub Nawaz at the Mission was under consideration. With reference to your fax message number POL-1/14/2010 LA, dated 8 & 9 June 2010, the matter regarding deputation of Rub Nawaz, system in-charge MRP was under consideration of Ministry of Foreign affairs, Ministry Interior and Establishment. Status quo, therefore, may kindly be maintained till the time the matter is resolved, Foreign office responded through a letter. In the same letter, Additional Secretary argued that attention is drawn to ESTACODE, Chp3, and S. No. 69 that make it obligatory that the personal posted abroad on government appointments be cleared from intelligence agencies before they take charge of their assignments. In absence of such clearance, the Ministry is unable to concur to the joining of Rub Nawaz at Los Angles. The letter sent to Ambassador Hussein Haqqani further states that attention is also drawn to the Establishment Divisions O.M. No. 5(2), /05-MSW-3, dated 17 August 2009 that had made absolutely clear that work of machine readable passport/ machine readable visa in missions abroad be handled by Ministry of foreign Affairs. The Division had also asked Ministry of Interior/ Directorate General of Passport and Immigration to further take appropriate action in this regard and finalise modus operandi with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in respect of staff requirement, training of Missions staff for handling MRP section, stated the letter of Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent to Ambassador Hussein Haqqani on 10 June. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still waiting for information, stated the letter. Meanwhile Foreign Office letter stated, in order to enable continuation of the issues of machine readable passport, IMPASS may authorise the Consular staff of the Mission to look after the work of system in-charge for the transmission of data and biometric to the database centre in Islamabad as was done earlier vide DG IMPASS letter No 5/21/2005/ Los Angles/FM-MRP of 30 October 2009. Contrary to this, an official told this correspondent on condition of anonymity that condition of getting clearance from intelligence agencies was mandatory for individuals before they take charge of their assignment abroad. However in Rub Nawaz case, the same rule is not applicable as he is already serving abroad, he said, adding that Babus of Foreign Office were creating hurdles in appointment of Rub Nawaz in a bid to appoint some blue-eyed person. Despite several attempts, Spokesperson of Foreign Office did not pick up his cellphone till filing of this report.