Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why Pakistanis Seek Greener Pastures

Interesting letter in Dawn that I have produced in full below:

THIS is apropos of Dr Imran Qureshi’s letter (May 17) in which he states that he has applied for Canadian immigration because he feels the Pakistani passport brings disgrace to him. It is unfortunate he used the pretext of security checks at airports being the reason for his action.

Moreover, he says: “I cannot change the system because I am nobody.” It is this attitude which contributes to the downfall of nations. Each individual in a nation has a role to play in its development no matter how small it is.

Instead of feeling ‘disgraced’ at being asked to remove our shoes and belts at airports, we need to understand why this is happening and how we can stop it. Besides, in today’s prevalent security situation, he would face the same security checks as long as he has a Muslim name.

So, probably, his next step would be to change his name to an English/Christian name, which might lead him to change his religion as well in a bid to improve the treatment he gets at airports.

One day when Pakistan would be prospering and the green passport will command respect, your head will be hung in shame for having ditched your motherland when it needed you the most.

United Kingdom
Perhaps the writer is right. A day will come when a Pakistani passport - the little green book - will be treated with respect. Just don't expect that day to be anytime soon.

There are many factors at play, of course, that need to go Pakistan's way before things improve. For one thing, stop producing passports that are easily forged. Much of the world is reverting to machine-readable passports and, in some cases, include various biometeric data. Pakistan still insists on issuing hand-written passports like the good old days, so it's not uncommon for criminals and terrorists to travel on Pakistani passports. Countless news items fill newspapers every year recounting harrowing tales of Pakistanis trying to enter countries, mostly for employment purposes, on bogus passports. This only makes it harder for legitmate vistors, who must pay the price for increased scrutiny at airports and denial of visas. Even Islamic countries like Malaysia are suspicious of Pakistanis.

And it doesn't help that Pakistan has been slow to respond, which only leaves many people frustrated and yearning for a passport of another color.