The mutual relationship between Pakistan and Indonesia would flourish if the two sides could find a solution to soften visa policy for Pakistani nationals.
This was said by Pakistani Ambassador to Indonesia Aqil Nadeem while speaking to the Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately and for unknown reasons, [the Indonesian government has] placed Pakistan on a very restrictive visa list that makes travelling to Indonesia very difficult,” the Pakistani ambassador told the Indonesian newspaper.
Ambassador Nadeem insisted that the visa policy was “really impacting” people-to-people contact between two countries, who have otherwise overcome challenges in growing balanced trade ties.
As many as 200,000 Pakistani tourists travel to Singapore or Thailand every year, in what amounts to a wasted opportunity for Indonesian tourism, he added.
The Jakarta Post, quoting official sources, also informed that only 8,000 Pakistanis went to Indonesia in 2016.
Bilateral trade between Indonesia and Pakistan is close to $2.2 billion, tilting heavily in Indonesia’s favour due to significant exports to Pakistan of palm oil and coal, it added.
Earlier in March, Kuwait decided to lift a six-year-old ban on visas for Pakistani nationals, after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took up the matter with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Jaber al Mubarak al Hamad al Sabah during his visit to the country.
The premier stressed that lifting the restrictions would remove a major hurdle for the ‘free movement of the business community’.
This article originally appeared on the Jakarta Post.