Muscat: Citizens of 175 countries around the world will soon be able to apply for e-visas to visit Pakistan, the country’s government has announced.
Pakistan’s overseas diplomatic missions have been authorised to grant three-month visas to citizens of 186 countries, with citizens of China, Malaysia, Turkey, the UAE and the UK being the first to avail these facilities during the first phase.
The processing time for visas that are applied for either in person or online, will vary from a week to ten days, while the number of countries whose citizens receive visas on arrival have increased from 24 to 50, the Pakistani Press Information Department has revealed.
“This is the first step we are taking to make what we call a ‘Naya Pakistan’ to open up our nation for people,” said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, during the public announcement of this new visa system, which was also broadcast on state-run channel PTV. “I have always thought that there was in Pakistan a mind-set which made it so that it would be most difficult for anyone to get a visa to come to Pakistan. It was almost as if it would be better if they didn’t come to Pakistan. In the 1960s, when I was growing up, and there was great self-confidence inside the country. There was a self-belief that we were moving upwards quickly, and the world also saw us that way.
Pakistan missions can also issue multiple business visas to businesspersons of 96 countries within 24 hours, provided said persons have received clearances from the country’s Ministry of Commerce. Pakistan missions can also grant five-year visas and one-year multiple entry visas to foreigners of Pakistani origin, and their spouses, which will also be processed within a span of seven to 10 working days.
According to Pakistan’s Ministry of the Interior, Omani nationals travelling to Pakistan are currently eligible for 30-day multiple-entry visas on arrival.
“There was a confidence in ourselves, but in the 70s, a socialist government came and reversed that process,” recalled Khan. “If there is no money made in the country and by the country, then it will not move forward. People will only come to Pakistan to invest if they can make money here. If they won’t make money here, they will not invest for nothing. At that time, we thought making money was a sin. This mind set is very important to change. It comes in the mind first, and then on the ground. We have made wealth creation a sin, making profits, we’ve made that a sin.
“Many people thought that making money from a project – not profiteering – but making profits from a project, was considered to be wrong. That has really harmed Pakistan,” he added. “This new visa regime is being brought in because we have confidence in Pakistan, where we don’t have security issues, where you don’t need a No Objection Certificate for every person to enter Pakistan. With this new online visa system, it will change the mind-set of people who want to come here, and when they come here, then they will see the potential Pakistan has.”