ISLAMABAD: The online visa facility currently available to the residents of 175 countries is set to be extended to another 16 countries.
Informed sources told Dawn that a summary to this effect had been moved by the interior minister and was most likely to be passed by the cabinet on Tuesday (today).
An official said that after approval of the summary, the facility of applying an online visa in different categories, including tourist, business and student visas, will be available to citizens from 191 countries.
A new revolutionary visa policy aimed at encouraging tourism in the country had been approved by the cabinet in January last year providing the e-visa facility to 175 countries and visa on arrival to 50 countries. The policy also allowed visa on arrival to Indian-origin British and American citizens holding United States or United Kingdom passports.
Tour operators approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) were allowed to bring groups of tourists to Pakistan.
Additionally, the process for acquiring a work visa to nationals of 96 countries for business purposes had also been eased.
“This is the first step to open up the country, the Naya (new) Pakistan. Pakistan always had a mindset: make it as difficult as you can to grant anyone visas,” Prime Minister Imran Khan had said while launching online visa service in March last year.
He said that in the 60s there was great self-confidence and self-belief that Pakistan was moving up in the world at a pace faster than others and the world too saw and recognised that fact.
The prime minister said that Pakistan’s image at that time could be assessed by the fact that President Ayub Khan during his state visit to the United States in 1961 was received at the airport by President John F. Kennedy himself.
He regretted that in the 70s a “socialist government” came and reversed the process (of growth and development).
“So our mindset changed in the 70s, whereby we thought of making money as a sin,” he continued.
He said that a politician at the time used to begin every speech by criticising investors and landlords. He said a change in mindset was what would eventually bring about the change that the country needed.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2020