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Friday, August 12, 2022
EditorialPassport to nowhere

Passport to nowhere

The Pakistani passport has been ranked the fourth worst passport in the world. There are only three countries below Pakistan and they are the war-torn states of Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan. Passports are ranked on the basis of how many countries can be visited visa-free by their holders. Currently, Afghanistan holds the lowest position, or first from the bottom, with only 26 countries on its visa-free entry list. The top position is held by Japan, holders of the Japanese passport can enter 193 countries out of a total of 195 in the world. Pakistani passport holders can enter only 31 countries without a visa or get a visa on arrival.

Owning the world’s fourth worst passport is a hassle. Many countries are sceptical when issuing visas to citizens of such countries and many others take multiple weeks or even months to process applications. All of this makes travelling extremely difficult. Many times students are unable to join their universities on time as their visas get delayed while many lose job opportunities due to this issue. Moreover, due to weak passports, visas get rejected, which eventually has a negative effect on future opportunities for a person due to no fault of their own.

Pakistan’s passport has such a low ranking due to the safety concerns that the world has and the misconceptions created by the actions of a few individuals who had the green passport. After 9/11,  the recovery of Osama bin Laden from Abbottabad and the spread of Islamophobia in the West, being a Pakistani became an insult and most terrorists were labelled as so even if they belonged to other regions of the world. The Pakistani passport is not strong due to the same reasons that are responsible for making Pakistan a weak statement. When countries with strong passports are observed, there are six major qualities that are found in them, sadly, Pakistan lacks most of them. A strong country with a strong passport has a strong and steady economy, sound law and order situation, powerful judiciary, a strong democracy and democratic institutions and negligible corruption. Pakistan lacks almost all of these virtues and therefore it has a weak passport. Moreover, the world accuses Pakistan of having state-sponsored terrorism, which makes the citizens of such a country labelled as terrorists.

It is not only the state, but the people also who are responsible for this low ranking. Many immigrants of Pakistani origin have gone to western countries in illegal ways or stayed in a country more than the visa allowed them to. Many became illegal workers or were forced into seeking asylum without any sound reasoning. Such people are a burden to the economy of the country they stay in and many also become involved in criminal offences which is why those states take rightful measures and long procedures to see whether a person from Pakistan is fit to enter their country or not.

The Pakistani passport will only climb numbers when the state becomes strong and is able to provide for its citizens so that they do not try to go to other countries by any means possible. Until then Pakistanis will have to face visa rejections and get checked by airport security head to toe.


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