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.
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.
This is the third consecutive year when Pakistan’s passport has been ranked as the fourth worst in the world, with only Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan below it in the list.
“Inflation, poverty, unemployment, economy collapse, and now international embarrassment. Welcome to Naya Pakistan,” wrote Mir Sohrab Khan Mari, coordinator to Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Pakistani Passport "4th Worst" Passport in the World.
Inflation, poverty, unemployment, economy collapse, and now international embarrassment.
Welcome to Naya Pakistan. pic.twitter.com/e1tDnCiz1A
— Mir Sohrab Khan Mari (@MirSohrab) January 13, 2022
Meanwhile, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan asked, “How much more will this government tarnish the image of Pakistan? (sic)”
Pakistani passport ranked as 4th worst passport for the 3rd consecutive year according to Henley Global's Passport Index 2022. Out of 111 countries 🇵🇰's passport stood out at position 108 even below war-torn Yemen. How much more will this @GovtofPakistan tarnish the image of 🇵🇰? pic.twitter.com/rh5vvVN8C1
— Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan (@SenatorMushtaq) January 14, 2022
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.
‘Thanks Imran Khan’
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.
Thank you imran khan!
Pakistani Passport ranked as 4th worst international Passport.
Corruption rank in Pakistan increased to 124 in 2020 from 120 in 2019. pic.twitter.com/NXTUP6VgEs
— Ahmed W B (@Ahmed_WB) January 13, 2022
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.
#Pakistan Actress Saba Qamar on #PakPassportWorst when she shoot film abroad.#NayaPakistan #MakarSankranti #KamalKhan #HappyPongal #मकर_संक्रांति @NazBaloch_ @AajKamranKhan @DrMuradPTI @Senator_Baloch pic.twitter.com/V4sDnVN0gY
— bharat bandhu (@bharatbndhu) January 14, 2022
Some suggested that action taken against human rights activists is the reason for Pakistan’s low ranking on the Henley Passport Index.
“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.
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 intl rankings.#StopHarassingIdrisBacha pic.twitter.com/eTTuYJZc28
— AlamZaib Khan Mahsud (@AlamZaibPK) January 13, 2022
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.