LAHORE - Due to poor management and security lapse the regional passport office located at Garden Town has been left at the mercy of agents and anti-social elements, sources in the office reveled. The sources claimed that over 600 applicants seeking new passports visited the office daily and in order to avoid inconvenience and get passport soon they fell prey to the agents sitting outside the office premises, as passport preparation was getting late by more than two months in Islamabad due to the reasons best known to the authorities concerned. A good number of agents have sprung up in the system with the connivance of passport office staff. They mint money from the innocent citizens in the name of consultancy and offering them help in different heads. They enter the office with the help of security guards, who are not only untrained but also without weapons or other security devices important to ensure security of the visitors and the office. When this scribe visited the said office he was received by several agents who encircling him offered their illegal services to him against payments of different amounts. A senior citizen Muhammad Afzal said that he had been sitting outside the office since morning. An agent received Rs 1000 from him saying that he would manage a token for him with which he could get his passport prepared without any hassle. (But) the agent disappeared, the frustrated citizen added. Another applicant said that he had submitted his application on December 22, 2009, but still he had to receive his passport. Shahid Bashir alleged that passports were being delivered from Islamabad as per schedule, but the office staff had been using a tactic to mint money from the citizens. When a person asks them for his/her passport, they do not give him the same saying it is yet to arrive. But same passport comes out if you seek through agents after paying them Rs 1000, he explained. A senior government official seeking anonymity said that he was standing in the queue since long and was wondering why the clerk sitting inside the office was issuing tokens to only those people who had approached him through agents. An agent is very much able to manage such a token for an applicant against which he could get his passport without logging in time in the queue, said another applicant. A passport office is a public office which is meant to facilitate the people. A large number of applicants visit this office daily, and provision of a sense of satisfaction and ensure security to them is must. In the wake of present critical security situation foolproof security arrangements are required on this office premises to combat any untoward incident, said Assistant Director of the Office in a letter written to the security agency concerned. He further said that it was matter of deep concern that the security provided by Orel Company was inadequate, unreliable and below the requirements enunciated in the agreement with the company signed. When contacted, Deputy Director Iqbal Ahmad Khan said that agents were not sitting with their permission. Why people contacted agents when they had no role in the formation of passport, he said and added that his office staff was not the creation of any different planet, they were also the part of this society, they could be involved. But if you tell me, he maintained, I would certainly take action against the responsible. Assistant Director Syed Jahanzeb Shah said that he had brought the issue into the notice of police for the removal of agents repeatedly, but no action had been taken so far.