ISLAMABAD - The Federal government yesterday said that it would cancel around 200000 (0.2 million) arms licences, prohibited and non-prohibited, if these were not got revalidated from the Ministry of Interior by end of the current year.

Ministry of Interior took this decision in a meeting chaired by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

Senior officers of the Ministry of Interior and its attached departments attended the meeting.

"The Ministry has decided to cancel all arms licences issued by it if these were not got revalidated by December 31, 2015," a statement issued by the Ministry of Interior said after the conclusion of the meeting. The Ministry during last PPP regime had announced that all arms licence-holders, prohibited and non-prohibited, issued by it should get re-validated their licences from the Ministry through the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

The Ministry set the deadline but this was extended for a number of times.

The meeting was informed that the Ministry had issued 425,261 arms licences since 1,973 and 3,52,843 were manual licences out of these and the process of their revalidation was underway.

A senior officer of the Ministry told the meeting that NADRA has received 1,71,033 applications for revalidation of arms licences so far and the holders of remaining arms licences had not contacted the authority in this connection.

The Ministry has no record of arms licences issued before 2002 as the entire record of arms licences had burnt to ashes some years ago.

Some officials of the Ministry suspect that the burning of this record was not a co-incident but it was a planned move as there were number of wrongdoings in the issuance of these arms licences. The participants of the meeting were informed that 1,500 security cameras had been installed in the Federal capital under Safe City Project.

Under the project, total 1950 security surveillance cameras would be installed in Islamabad and on Murree Road of Rawalpindi. The chair directed that the project should be completed till December 2015. "With the completion of the project, Islamabad would become one of those capital cities of modern world that are under security cameras and security is ensured there through live video surveillance," the Ministry said, adding, the system would help not only controlling crime but also ending terrorism in the Federal capital. During the meeting, the Interior Minister approved the established of 73 new district level offices of Passport Directorate.

“Total 95 passport offices are working through out the country since establishment of Pakistan," the meeting was informed.The Minister was informed that after the establishment of 73 new passport offices, none of the districts of the country would be without passport office. Passport Office and the official concerned of the Ministry were directed to complete these new offices within 15 months.

The Ministry stated that around Rs 600 million would be spent from the national kitty on this project.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan directed Director General (DG) Passport that an online system should be devised in next six months for the issuance of passports to overseas Pakistanis.

Same system would be established in the country within nine months so that people could save themselves from suffering of long wait and queues, he added. "The issuance of passports, CNICs and Pakistan Origin Card (POC) for overseas Pakistanis should be made easy and they should be provided these facilities in minimum possible time," the Minister instructed the passport office.

He said that the passport centers abroad should be increased and facility of issuance of machine readable passports in foreign missions abroad should be ensured till December 31 of this year.

The Minister also approved establishment of 15 new executive passport centers. NADRA and Passports Directorate will jointly establish these executive centers that would have state of the art facilities, the Ministry said in the statement. "In first stage, these centers would be established in four big cities, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi till January 2016 while the remaining would be completed till September 2016," the Ministry said.

The Ministry said that all facilities in connection with passports issuance would be provided at these centers and the same would be issued in minimum possible time.

The chair directed that POC, NICOP and visa issuance should also be made online so that unnecessary public complaints could end over this issue.