BANGKOK, THAILAND: I am a Swiss travel writer currently travelling in Southeast Asia. I have always dreamt of visiting the K2 base camp but it seems that this dream will not be fulfilled any time soon.
I am currently in Thailand and I visited the Pakistan embassy in Bangkok to apply for a Pakistani tourist visa, which the embassy refused to grant me despite an official recommendation letter from the Gilgit-Baltistan Council in Islamabad as well as a trekking permit, which I have already been granted. Non-Thai foreigners can get a Pakistani visa only if they are permanent residents in Thailand or have a work permit. Further, a recommendation from Pakistan’s interior ministry is also required. The ministry, however, is refusing to issue any letter to me. Because of all this I had to cancel my trekking trip.
I want to apologise to all the guides, drivers, cooks and porters who could have had some income coming their way through my trekking trip. The tourism and hotel industry in Pakistan is already suffering because of the fear of terrorism that is keeping many Western tourists at home. This tourist visa policy will do nothing to improve the situation. I am writing to let the Pakistani people judge for themselves the practice employed by their embassy in Bangkok.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2012.
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