World’s Fourth-Worst Passport

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News that the Pakistani passport has ranked fourth-worst in the world for the third straight year has lit up social media, quite as expected, with people wondering what became of the tall claim that people would line up to visit and invest in Pakistan because PTI would put things right after it came to power. Now, if precedent is anything to go by, government spokespersons will take turns to rubbish the credibility of the Henley Passport Index, which ranks passports according to how many other countries a certain country’s citizens can access without a prior visa. It ranks Pakistan at 108, in the company of war-torn countries like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan; even below Yemen, which is also in the grip of a savage military assault by Saudi Arabia and its allies.
There’s also a general tendency to brush all such news under the carpet as some sort of conspiracy against Pakistan. The fact, however, is that such reports only show how little we are trusted or respected elsewhere and how uneasy other countries are at the prospect of our citizens crossing their shores. But when the state can do no more than cut a sorry figure after repeated incidents like the Sialkot lynching tragedy, and readily collapses when religious extremists attack its writ, such reaction from the international community is just what to expect.
It also exposes the abject failure of the foreign ministry to portray what the government considers to be the right image of Pakistan. If the present administration wasn’t busy with blaming India for every foreign policy failure and previous governments for whatever goes wrong inside the country, perhaps it would’ve been able to do something constructive about the social, economic and political climate here so others would respect it from the outside as well. Alas, none of that happened. And just like the economy, our perception in the international community also continues to tank.