Blue passport holders face stricter UAE visa regime

Published: November 28, 2016
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ISLAMABAD: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has toughened its visa policy for Pakistanis, particularly for those holding official and diplomatic passports.

Now, official passport holders are required to wait for a longer time to get visas, contrary to the norms that accord priority to such passport holders. This startling revelation was made in a written reply of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs submitted to the Senate in response to a question of a senator.

The reason Pakistan’s passport is green

According to it, UAE authorities have adopted a stringent policy for granting visas to the holders of official passports from Pakistan.

“Pakistani passport holders – both diplomatic and official – have been facing a stringent clearance regime for the past three years before visas are issued,” stated the written reply.

Media reports regarding issuance of multiple and unauthorised passports to applicants on the basis of forged documents noticed by local authorities may have influenced the UAE visa policy towards Pakistani official passport holders, the reply added.

“All applications are referred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abu Dhabi, for approval. After referral by the UAE embassy in Islamabad, authorities in Abu Dhabi consume a maximum of two weeks (eight working days) for processing the applications.”

The reason Pakistan’s passport is green

While the majority of cases are approved within or before the given time, a small number are declined, without assigning any reason, the reply said and added: “The practice of granting visas on arrival has been done away with.”

The immigration system in the UAE has been digitised. But despite this, many problems still exist. The Pakistani mission in Abu Dhabi has approached the UAE for a review of its official policy vis-à-vis issuance of visa to the holders of official passports from Pakistan on November 17, 2015 and on August 15, 2016. “However, their response is still awaited,” maintained the written reply.

UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash had warned Pakistan in April last year that it would pay a heavy price for its ambiguous stand on Yemen. That warning may also be a reason behind treating Pakistani official passport holders so strictly.

Official passports are issued to senators, MNAs, provincial ministers, superior court judges, officers serving with the government and proceeding abroad on official assignments.

Pakistani passport second worst for international travel

In 2013, media reports had alleged that at least 2,000 blue passports were sold to influential people at a hefty price during the PPP regime. According to the reports, undeserving officials were issued these passports and billions of rupees were made out of the sale of diplomatic passports.

The official passport allows entry to some 70 countries around the world without the formality of getting a visa. There has been a tradition in the country where the government – or a particular minister with some clout – has lavished this privilege on selected individuals.

During Shaukat Aziz’s time, a blue passport scandal surfaced in which retired bureaucrats and former ministers were declared entitled to carry it.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Baba
    Nov 28, 2016 - 9:56AM

    Ignore these Gulf Arab Dictators, who were trying to Force Pakistan Army to fight as a rental Army in Yemen. I am proud that Pakistan stayed neutral and did not send its army to Yemen. Pakistan should learn its lesson and stop fighting other nation’s war for money.Recommend

  • ABC
    Nov 28, 2016 - 10:16AM

    Simple. Do the same with UAE. BTW who really wants to waste his/her money on the desert anywayRecommend

  • Pakistan Zindabad
    Nov 28, 2016 - 10:25AM

    Any thing happen in Pakistan is less as they are expected more then that.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Nov 28, 2016 - 10:26AM

    @Baba:
    Its not just that. If unnamed “influential people” sell these out for a hefty price to many of those undeserving, many foreign governments should indeed question the value of this category of passport. Scams galore is business as usual.Recommend

  • vinsin
    Nov 28, 2016 - 10:32AM

    @Baba:
    What about Ummah? Then why did you take fund from Saudi for creation of Pakistan and aid from so many years? What Pakistan has done maybe national interest but from Arab point of view that is treachery. Recommend

  • Javaid Randhawa
    Nov 28, 2016 - 10:38AM

    Pakistan should had helped Saudia immediately as borders of Saudia were in danger. As it was symbolical but Nawaz Sharif did in the wrong way and took matter to parliament where iran’s intelligence pay rolled people were present to get a chance to damage relations between two countries. This was foolishness of Quaid SaniRecommend

  • Amer
    Nov 28, 2016 - 10:44AM

    This is really not a big deal or a bad thing… if anything this news item really confirms that priorities of our senators and politicians. Recommend

  • Insane
    Nov 28, 2016 - 10:46AM

    No need to go to Dubai anymore. Soon they will be searching for everything in Pakistan. That CPEC will eventually ruin them. Golden days are over now. Recommend

  • bashgul
    Nov 28, 2016 - 11:19AM

    Well done UAE. Now you know how corrupt the previous government were and still you patronize them and give them asylum. With the blue passports these Pakistani corrupt officials, smuggle out the ill gotten wealth. Does Canada and other countries know that they are giving their citizenship to corrupt people? The Sindh provincial government holds it cabinet meeting in Dubai, Ministers have their business interest in Dubai. The Qataris sided with NS regarding the Panama papers because they are not in good terms with the Saudis.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Nov 28, 2016 - 12:31PM

    It has nothing to do with the policy on Yemen……. that seems to be a decoy being used by the government to divert the attention from the real issue.Recommend

  • Bilal Khan
    Nov 28, 2016 - 12:38PM

    Pakistan govt. should “earn” respect before expecting reciprocal treatment. Our govt. officials and politicians have made a mockery of the hard working people of Pakistan and expect to run the country as a fief, enjoying all the perks without “paying up”.
    UAE has been a good friend and normal/ordinary Pakistanis don’t face any discrimination here (being UAE resident). Lets not assume things. Besides, you expect verifications when you have passport scams and zero accountability.
    Pakistan needs to work on its relationship building and projecting right image not just across ME but also the world.
    I know that our govt. officials don’t really have that respect, not in Pakistan and not abroad.Recommend

  • Syed
    Nov 28, 2016 - 1:58PM

    This is all sideshow.

    The original reason is Pakistan is posing a commercial competition to Dubai when developing the Gwadar port and other developments with China. Persian Gulf Arabs (GCC) never wanted this in the first place.

    Pakistan should continue down its own path that is in their best interest. All of the above is steam from cheap competition.. simply ignore.Recommend

  • Ali S
    Nov 28, 2016 - 3:33PM

    Good that Pakistan’s high and mighty corrupt elite now also know what the average Pakistani has to go through for a visa to a ‘brotherly Muslim’ country.Recommend

  • M. Emad
    Nov 28, 2016 - 8:42PM

    From this year, No Russian Visa needed for Bangladeshi passport holders.Recommend

  • Shah
    Nov 29, 2016 - 4:53PM

    Excellent. Make it impossible for these blue-eyed blue passport holders to even enter UAE. Serves them right.Recommend

  • nomi
    Nov 30, 2016 - 9:07PM

    In the meantime we will renew their bird hunting licenses. Recommend

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