KATHMANDU: Several former ambassadors and their kin, some retired members of constitutional bodies and a good many of those who on more than a couple of occasions were part of VVIP foreign trips have not returned the diplomatic passports issued to them, even though the law of the land calls for them to hand over the documents once they stop holding their respective posts.
An official at the Passport Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told THT that as many as 13 ambassadors, who have recently returned from Nepali missions abroad after completing their tenure, and their 25 relatives are yet to return their passports.
“We had issued 46 diplomatic passports in the names of recently returned 16 former ambassadors and their kin,” said the official. “As of now we have received only eight passports — two of the former ambassadors and six of their kin.”
The official declined to reveal the names of the former envoys and their relatives. But he disclosed that all those former envoys not returning their red passports were political appointees. All the passports were issued in the end of 2007 with five-year validity, meaning there are still five to six months before their passports expire.
In 2007 and around, ambassadors for several countries like Israel, Malaysia, Myanmar, Australia, Thailand, Japan, China, Denmark, Saudi Arabia and India were political appointees; they were not career diplomats. Most of them returned after completing their four-year tenure by the end of 2011 but did not return their and their relatives’ passports. Interestingly, all the ambassadors nominated from foreign services have duly returned their red passports.
Yadav Khanal, Acting Chief of the Passport Division, confirmed that some former ambassadors were still keeping diplomatic passports with them ‘knowingly or unknowingly’ but was quick to add ‘we know they will not misuse them’.
“Chances of misusing passports by former ambassadors are slim, but returning them has more to do with the ethics; why to hold the documents when they no longer hold official posts?” wondered Khanal.
A former ambassador admitted to THT that he had not returned his passport, considering that ‘anyway its validity will expire soon and it will be of no use’. “But, I am going to return it at the earliest,” he said requesting anonymity.
MoFA officials said several retired top bureaucrats, members of constitutional bodies and delegates in VVIP foreign visits were still keeping their red passports with them.
In addition, more than 30 former CA members are yet to return their diplomatic passports.LEKHANATH PANDEY,THT