Enhancing Pakistan’s Passport Credibility

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Mahwish Bakht
Nowadays, the branding of individuals is paralleled with the state’s image. The power of passport has gained paramount prominence in the era of globalization when the physical borders are less noteworthy, the gap    between time and space is exceptionally reduced and global mobility of individuals is more promoted. To gain insight about the visa policies of the state(s), devised strategies for the provision of public security (citizens/immigrants/refugees/scholars/skilled workers/paramedical staff/tourists), specific policies for non-eligible nationalities /region(s) is now equivalent to the foreign policy. While focusing on the scope of discussion, the recent report of Henley and Partners Passport Index (HPI) 2021 has globally ranked Japanese passport number one having visa-free score 191. However, the global ranking of passport is not influenced by the temporary bans applied on international travelling due to Covid-19 crisis. Concurrently, there is a ranking for 10 world worst passport to hold including (Rank # 103). North Korea: (39 destinations), 104. Libya, Nepal: (38), 105. Palestinian territories: (37), 106. Somalia, Yemen: (33), 107. Pakistan: (32), 108. Syria: (29), 109. Iraq: (28), 110. Afghanistan: (26). It is the matter of the great concern for Pakistan to categorize its passport at the bottom line with the majority of the war-torn countries in the global ranking of passport. Although in past, the country had strived a lot and taken incredible steps for the peacebuilding process of South Asia. It has faced large scale economy decline, social security crisis, international sanctions and political instability. The efforts of Pakistan must be remembered and endorsed by the Western community as it served as a frontal state with the USA and contested in proxy wars mainly Cold War (1979-1989) and War on Terrorism (2001-2018) in Afghanistan. The role of Pakistan in these wars is to support international forces in countering international militancy and sustaining global peace. Furthermore, Pakistan’s role in US-Taliban deadlock needs to be reminisced. It acts as a facilitator in the peaceful reconciliation process between Kabul leadership and Taliban in 2015, later on, played a successive mediator role in US-Afghan Peace Talks, Feb 2020. The achievement has ended the 19 year’s old triggered war on Afghan soil. Now, Mr. Joe Biden’s Administration and the entire Western community should strategize their flexible policies towards Pakistan and acknowledge the priceless efforts of a great nation in the service of global peace. Plummeting the restrictive international rules and flexible visa-free policies will support in Pakistan’s global passport power ranking. Pakistan is always in the favour of maintaining peace with its neighbours in the presence of strong political skirmishes and rigid BJP government policies towards the disputed Kashmir region. Peace always favor the states in reciprocity because in international relations we can change our friends and foe but we cannot change our neighbourhood. Moreover, the state’s interests are driven by the nature of relations between the states. India needs to pro-actively work for the peace process, joint trade and emancipation. Despite politicizing Pakistan for its lowest global passport power index, India needs to focus on reducing its political instability and stop massive human right violations in a heavily militarized zone. The news published by Times of India about the statement of COAS Pakistan has gained the attention of the Indian central government. His statement signifies the intentions of Islamabad towards New Dehli on the issue of disputed Kashmir. There is a clear indication for the eastern  neighbourhood of initiating the peace process. Currently, both states are competing with health sector challenges. The inauguration of the reconciliation process for peace can act as a ray of hope. This hope can open the new avenues towards the resolution, help in upgrading the Indo-Pak passport power index and end the deadlock on Kashmir issue since 5th August 2019. However, the HPI 2021 report is an eye-opening moment for Pakistan to reevaluate both national and international policies. There is also a need to invest in the efficient functioning of state institutions to achieve stability and sustainable goals. Moreover, regularizing the vulnerable border security system can help the state to secure itself from FATF objections. By keeping in mind the environment of global governance, GoP should advance with adequate policies for research and development and invite foreign companies, traders, tourists, writers, industrialists, skilled labour to invest in its state’s sectors. It will widen the influx of foreign direct investments, promote economic self-sufficiency and gained eligibility for its nationals in global mobility. All the aforementioned recommendations open the corridors for its nationals and diaspora across the globe. For stabilizing the position of Pakistan in the global system, the supportive role of international actors allows its citizen to enjoy those rights and privileges available to other nations. With the external support and progressive state system, Pakistan can improve its ranking in the global passport index and revive its benchmark position in South Asia and the changing new world order.

(-The writer is a researcher in a public sector University, Islamabad, Pakistan. She can be reached at [email protected] )