Pakistani passport | By Jamshed Alam Siddiqui

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Pakistani passport

ONCE again, the Pakistani passport has been ranked as the fourth-worst passport in the world, maintaining its position from last year and providing access to only 32 locations without a visa according to the Henley Passport Index for 2022.

The Henley Index ranks 199 passports from around the world based on the number of destinations the holder can visit without applying for a visa.

This, of course, does not come as a surprise to many considering how travellers, students and many others are often found lamenting the amount of hurdles they have to go through for travelling on the green passport.

What is concerning, however, is the fact that Pakistan is ranked only higher than the war-torn countries of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is generally a well understood fact that the passports of developing countries are ranked lower on such indexes for a variety of reasons, but even by those standards Pakistan should be doing better than the current ranking it holds.

This ranking has come about due to a number of issues such as poor security record, international perception, economic standing and a lack of bilateral treaties to facilitate travel.

While there are multiple components that need to be addressed over the long-term to improve on the above metrics, the most immediate and effective avenue is to conduct better diplomacy.

This is something that the foreign office should look into seriously as our global retinue of ambassadors must work in a concerted fashion to facilitate the Pakistani passport.

Improving the standing of a country’s passport can go a long way in facilitating cultural exchanges, alliances, trade and greater inter connectivity across multiple spheres.

On the diplomatic front, we must start with the countries in our vicinity. For instance, Pakistan has been pushing for greater trade ties with countries in Central Asia and has been making some progress in that regard, however, for many of these countries its citizens are not eligible for the more convenient and hassle-free e-visa category, let alone a visa-free entry.

Therefore, there is a lot that can be done if we pursue this endeavour seriously and work towards signing treaties with neighbouring countries.

In the long run, however, the best strategy is to work towards strengthening the country’s economic standing and international image, the rest of the things generally fall into place once those two critical aspects are taken care of.

Better relations with neighbouring countries would be a foundation for peace and stability in the region.

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Lahore.

 

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