Sanctity of green passport

PAKISTANI passport has moved up two sports on the 2019 Henley Passport Index but continues to remain the fifth worst passport globally, offering its holders visa free access to just 33 countries. According to the latest index, Pakistan occupies the 102nd spot as compared to the 104th last year, reflecting two spot jump but it is better than only four countries – Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The index provides an insight where a country stands in terms of mobility and how it compares with other countries of the world in this regard. The ranking, prepared in cooperation with International Air Travel Agency (IATA), is based on the ease of travel of citizen of a country to other countries and categorization of Pakistan should be a source of concern for the Government. The ranking of green passport is shocking and it is all the more regrettable that the authorities concerned seem to be unmoved to take notice of the situation as the situation has not changed over the years. There were times when Green Passport holders were able to travel to the United States and most of the European countries without any visa but today the situation is reverse and extremely bad as Pakistanis can travel to only 33 less developed countries without Visa. This loss of prestige and reputation is because of many factors but incidents of forgery and issuance of fake passports to non-Pakistanis has much to do with the phenomenon. There have been reports since long that foreigners especially Afghans were able to get Pakistani national identity cards and passports as easily as Pakistan’s own citizens. The individuals frequently indulge in smuggling, drug trafficking and acts of terrorism in host countries and bring bad name to Pakistan. It is because of such incidents that on some airports of the civilized world, Pakistani passport holders are required to make a separate line and they are treated differently and discriminately in terms of immigration process and security checks. There are also stringent visa requirements for Pakistanis and this also impacts our foreign trade as businessmen too face problems in acquiring visas of different countries. The situation can improve if we improve overall security environment, project Pakistan’s soft image and exercise due diligence in issuance of passports.

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