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Travel Restriction or Passport Discrimination?

“Sorry Sir, you can’t have on-arrival visa for UAE as you are Pakistani national.” “But I am residing in KSA; please have a look at my resident permit.” “Oh, sorry for inconvenience, please move to counter no.4 for on-arrival visa.”

This happened to me a couple of weeks back while I was traveling to UAE from KSA. Many of the readers have been through such kind of situations while travelling as Pakistani national and I am sure, some of them also felt, quite frankly, ashamed to be from Pakistan.

Those who have finally managed to get some Western nationality may look at this conversation with sympathy and advice to get rid of Pakistani Passport as soon as possible as it is among one of the worst passports for traveling. However, I feel that there is a bigger and more serious issue involved in this i.e. discrimination.

A person is not allowed to enter some country or he is treated differently because of the passport he carries. For example, UK citizens don’t need to have visa to enter UAE; KSA residents need a visa to enter UAE but they can have on-arrival visa; citizens of Pakistan have to apply for visa prior to coming UAE as they are not entitled for on-arrival visa.

For me, this situation is exactly what is termed as discrimination. Like racial discrimination, gender discrimination, etc. I would call it ‘passport discrimination’ where people are subjected to different treatment on the basis of passport they carry. I totally understand that this situation is a result of foreign policy matters that relate to international relations.

Pakistan has been making headlines for quite some time for all the wrong reasons, and as a result, travel restrictions are being applied. But why whole population of Pakistan is subjected to such restrictions for the actions of some people.

It is exactly the same situation where one race is singled out because some people belonging to that race get involved in unlawful activities.

Interestingly, latter case is not acceptable because it is ‘racial discrimination’ as it is not justified to punish all for the crimes of some whereas the former case is taken as something being perfectly alright.

The question is, if actions of some people  can’t be used to generalize all those who belong to that race, ethnicity or culture; why same can be used as a valid excuse when it comes to ‘passport discrimination’? Furthermore, this phenomenon of ‘passport discrimination’ is not limited to traveling only.

You can also find its radical effects in salary packages. Believe me; you can get around double of your current salary by doing the same amount of work, of same quality, if you hold a different passport.

If all this is not enough, recent news from Saudi Arab push things further; Saudi men are not allowed to marry women of 4 nationalities that include Pakistan (http://tribune.com.pk/story/745015/saudi-men-banned-from-marrying-pakistani-women/). This is yet another example of how stupid, unreasonable and illogical things can be when you start implementing ‘passport discrimination’ on different levels.

Heartbreaking is the fact that even this step is not considered as discrimination. It really surprises me when in different countries, including USA; there is a public up roar when Police starts profiling criminals as Black people. The reason is simple; you can’t be judgmental about whole population because of some people.

I have no idea why this rationale goes into thin air ‘passport discrimination’ comes into play.

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