NEW DELHI: An “International embarrassment” — this is just one of the many phrases used by Pakistani social media users in response to their country’s passport ranking fourth worst for international travel, as per the Henley Passport Index. The Pakistani passport was ranked 108th, reports ThePrint.
The Henley Passport Index is a ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. It uses exclusive data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations.
Meanwhile, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan asked, “How much more will this government tarnish the image of Pakistan? (sic)”
According to the Index, the Maldives passport remains the strongest in South Asia at global 58th position. India, meanwhile, jumped from rank 90 to 84 compared to last year. Other countries in the region included Sri Lanka (102) and Bangladesh (103). Even the North Korean passport ranked higher than Pakistan’s, at 104th place.
Some Pakistani users sarcastically thanked their prime minister, noting that the country had also dropped four places in an annual corruption index released by Transparency International last January.
Amid the uproar, a 2018 clip of Pakistan actress Saba Qamar narrating her experience while travelling abroad for a film shoot is in circulation once again. She had claimed she was frisked at the airport because she held a Pakistani passport.
“The way we are checked, I feel so humiliated. I remember when I visited Tbilisi for a film shoot, the entire crew was allowed to go through except for me, because I carry a Pakistani passport,” Qamar had said.
“It is very shameful that Idris Bacha, the coordinator of PTM, has been placed in Schedule IV of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Applying this act to HR activists instead of terrorists has made Pakistani Passport the fourth weakest passport in the international rankings,” said activist AlamZaib Khan Mahsud.
Last December, minority rights activist Idris Khattak, also referred to as Idrees Bacha, was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment following a trial by a military court in Pakistan. Under the Pakistan Army Act, he was charged with espionage and other acts “prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State”, including allegedly revealing information related to the military operations in 2009 in the region. UN human rights activists had condemned the conviction.