Qatar has announced a visa-free entry programme for 80 countries of the world including India to stimulate air transport and tourism.Surprisingly, there is no prominent Muslim country on the visa free nationalities list including Pakistan.
This is a big humiliation for Pakistan, as it is an Islamic Nation and it also considers itself as a Leader of Islamic Nations, because it possess Nuclear Bomb.
While officially we can’t call it a visa ban, but Pakistanis have to go through much stricter scrutiny than other countries’ citizens. Earlier former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif personally intervened in March 2017 with the Kuwaiti leadership, but despite promises of review, Pakistanis continue to stay on the restricted list.
It seems Pakistan and Gulf Nations relationship has touched a new low. In 2015, Pakistan refused to join the Saudi alliance against Yemen prompting an angry response from the UAE authorities. Saudi Arabia, one of Pakistan’s biggest benefactors, virtually asked Pakistan to choose between Riyadh and Doha earlier this year, when the Gulf states hit out at Qatar for its alleged support to terrorists.
Qatar’s decision has nothing new, even in November ’16, it introduced visas on arrival for tourists from India, Russia, and China among others. In September, it liberalized its visa regime for Indian citizens with US Green Cards or UK permanent residents. Pakistan was not on either list even then.
Hassan al-Ibrahim, a Qatar’s tourism department official, said, “The visa exemption scheme will make Qatar the most open country in the region”.
Interior ministry official Mohamed Rashed al-Mazroui said the nationals of 80 countries would only need to present a valid passport for entry to the energy-rich Gulf state which is to host football’s 2022 World Cup, reported Kuwait Times.
The 80 countries were not named and neither was the date from which the visa-free programme will take effect mentioned, but Qatari newspapers said it would apply mainly to Western nationals.
However, according to The Peninsula, a Middle Eastern news outlet the nations are detailed as follows:
Mazroui said the countries were selected on the basis of security and economic considerations, or for the buying-power of their nationals, again a brutal slap on the face of Pakistan.
Regional kingpin Saudi Arabia as well as Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have since June 5 imposed a boycott on Qatar, accusing the emirate of fostering Islamist extremist groups and of close ties to Iran. Doha has denied the allegations.
The four Gulf nations have closed their land and sea borders to Qatar and imposed economic and air traffic restrictions.
Qatar has a population of 2.4 million people, 90 percent of whom are foreigners, including many from south Asia working in construction.