Pakistan government has decided to shut its passport office in the volatile North Waziristan tribal region following reports that Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements obtained passports by intimidating officials.
The passport office was located in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal agency and the operational headquarters of Maulvi Gul Bahadur of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.
"Our colleagues in Miranshah office were repeatedly held hostage by armed militants and they were forced to issue passports in the name of some foreign nationals, including Arabs," a senior official in the Passport and Immigration Directorate told the Dawn newspaper.
At times, a messenger from local Taliban commander Maulvi Gul Bahadur would arrive with a chit asking for passports.
Gul Bahadur is believed to be in the good books of the government.
"We have been reporting about such incidents to our seniors in the head office, who used to advise us to be tactful in handling such situations," the official said.
A total of over 5,000 passports were issued from the passport office in Miranshah since it was set up two years ago. It was not known how many passports were issued to militants and foreign nationals.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed the closure of the passport office in Miranshah.
"I believe in taking decisions in time. Whenever I get the information about any of my offices, I take the proper step," he said.