The history of Pakistani passport depicts the continuous clash since its existence within the country itself.The change in its contents and cover over the past years reflect Pakistan as a community and a nation.
Pakistan came into being on 14th August 1947 with the untiring efforts of Muhammad Ali Jinnah who was a great lawyer and Muslim modernist.It was formed on the basis of Islam as a state where Muslim culture could dominate. However, the state itself was not involved in the affairs of religion and declared it as a private matter for every individual. Jinnah died after a year Pakistan was created and since then,there is a tussle over the country’s ideological composition.
The liberal and conservative are two groups in Pakistan who have always been of different views about the composition of Pakistan.
Liberals are of the view that Jinnah proposed an idea of establishing an entirely modernistic state of Islam in the form of Pakistan. Whereas,conservatives believe that Jinnah envisioned Pakistan as a completely Islamic state for the Muslim Ummah.
This battle on differences in views has been a cause of the internal fight and increased when it came in the corridors of the state. Its path can be traced from beginning till now.
In 1947-Pakistani Passport
The first Passport which was issued in late 1947 was mainly ‘beige’ is its color having a ‘small portion of green color’.
“Pakistan Passport” was written on its cover in three languages i.e. English, Bengali, and Urdu.
There were two flags on it which symbolizing the two wings present in Pakistan at that time, namely, ‘eastern wing’ and ‘western wing’.
The details of passport holder were given the passport which included holder’s name, address, profession, photo and marital status.
During that time, Pakistanis could get visas-on-arrival in any country and it was not necessary to have a pre-arrival-visa if they wished to visit any country.
Passport changed its look in 1954, having ‘more green color’ than the ‘beige’ as compared to the previous passport. The other changing was that the name of holder appeared on the cover along with the two flags.
As there were tensions between East Pakistan which had the majority of Bengalis and West Pakistan which had ethnic diversity. So, both these wings were declared as different provinces. Therefore, the passports of both these provinces were also a bit different. The Bengali dominated province had “PakistaniPassport” written on its cover in Bengali and English. On the other hand, West Pakistan had “Pakistani Passport” written in Urdu and English. Other contents were same as that of the previous version of the passport.
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Pakistan had developed strained relations with Israel, the Soviet Union, and Afghanistan at that time so Pakistanis were still able to get on-arrival-visas in all countries other than these. Even India continued issuing on-arrival-visas despite the 1948 war.
Passport changed again after the first constitution passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1956. Pakistan was declared Islamic Republic state and it was then decided to write “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” on the passport.
However, in 1958 martial law was imposed in Pakistan and Iskander Mirza suspended the constitution by labeling it as “the peddling of Islam for political gains”. General Ayub also supported Mirza in his stance and became president of Pakistan in 1959. Name of Pakistan changed to the “Republic of Pakistan” by Ayub.
In 1960, passport changed again and was ‘light green’ in color. This color was a symbol of moderateIslamic view. The contents inside the passport were same but the flags were removed and “Pakistan Passport” was written in English and Urdu only.
On-arrival-visas were given to Pakistanis from all the countries except the Soviet Union, East European communist countries, and Israel. China was the only communist country to give on-arrival-visas to Pakistanis at that time.Afghanistan also began giving on-arrival-visas.
The government of Ayub faced much criticism from the people especially when the Pakistan-India war ended and the economy got affected.Tensions were created by Bengalis and in the meanwhile, the color of Pakistani passport changed back to ‘dark green’. The inside contents remained same but“Pakistan Passport” was written in three languages again i.e. English, Urdu, and Bengali.
After the 1965 war, Pakistan and India stopped giving each other the facility of on-arrival-visas. Other countries which did not give on-arrival-visas to Pakistanis were same as before.
In 1971, another significant event took place, East Pakistan separated from Pakistan and became ‘Bangladesh’. So in 1974, when the country finally recognized Bangladesh as a separate country, Bengali text was removed from the passport and the color became ‘bluish green’.
Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly passed the third resolution in 1974 in which Pakistan was again declared as the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. However, this was not added to the passport at that time. The inside contents of passport changed a bit and a section to note the color of holder’s eyes was added along with other details.
Pakistanis were still able to enjoy on-arrival-visas from most of the countries. But in 1970, U.S stopped giving on-arrival-visas. At the same time, the Soviet Union and communist countries of eastern Europe relaxed their policies on visas to some extent.
In 1979, the inside contents were same as the previous version of 1970 but the only change was that the Urdu text shifted on top of the English one at the passport cover.
On-arrival-visas were still given offered most countries except the communists (other than China) and the U.S. In 1978 communist revolution took place in Afghanistan and the Soviet invaded in 1979. Therefore, Afghanistan also barred Pakistanis from on-arrival-visas.
In 1984-Major Changes
For the first time in 1984, Pakistan’s name declared in 1973 i.e. “the Islamic Republic of Pakistan” appeared on the passports.
The other changing was that the word “Passport” was written in English, Urdu and in Arabic as well. The reason for this was, at that time many Pakistanis were going to Arab countries for work and also Arab influence was increasing on Pakistanis.
The inside contents were also changed and it was made compulsory to mention your faith and declare that one does not belong to Ahmadi community.
Pakistanis could not get on-arrival-visas from the UK, other major European countries, Afghanistan, Soviet Union, Libya and other communist countries except China. Other than these, the gulf states of UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia also changed their visa policies.
The passport changed again after Zia’s era and the color changed to ‘light green’. The words of “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” in English came up the Urdu ones. Arabic text was removed from the cover but the inside declaration of faith and not being a part of Ahmadiyya community remained as they were before.
This passport version is still present to this date, although PervaizMusharaf tried to replace “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” to the “Republic of Pakistan”. But due to protests from Islamic parties, this could not happen.
After the incident of 9/11, most of the countries stopped giving the facility of on-arrival-visas to Pakistanis, including China. This was due to the fear of uprising militancy in Pakistan. Now it is important to note that only 29 countries offer on-arrival-visa to Pakistanis and most of them are African countries.
In 2016, a report on visa restrictions was released by Henley and partners. According to this report, Pakistani passport is devalued a lot in the past few years and is now the least valuable passport in the world.
In 2016, some European countries have started providing Pakistanis having “Pakistan” written on them in English and “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” in Urdu. However, till now, this is only for the people having dual nationality but this might be adopted by all Pakistanis in future.