A foreign tourist holds a Pakistan's national flag at a tourist spot in northern area. Twitter photo
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Pakistan will stop issuing manual visas from next month and has asked non-resident Pakistanis and others interested in travelling to the country to apply online for electronic or e-visas.
“In compliance with the instructions of the government of Pakistan for complete implementation of E-visa regime, Embassy of Pakistan and its consulates across the United States will stop the issuance of manual visa from Feb.1, 2021,” said a notification issued by the Pakistan embassy in Washington.
“Visa applicants are, therefore, advised to submit their applications online at http://visa.nadra.gov.pk/,” the embassy added.
A senior embassy official said that this change applies to all Pakistani missions and embassies across the globe will stop issuing manual visas from Feb.1. Pakistan stopped issuing manual passports several years ago.
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Embassies also no longer receive applications for national identity cards and other similar documents. All these services are now available online. The change will affect millions of Pakistanis living in North America and Europe, particularly in the countries that do not allow dual citizenship.
Even in countries like Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States, which allow dual citizenship, people prefer to travel on visas stamped on their current passports. Traveling on passports of their country of origin often invokes suspicion.
Sometime back, Federal Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government is introducing a "new revolutionary visa policy" to encourage tourism in the country.
He added that the government wants tourism to become the foundation for change in Pakistan.
Chaudhry had said that Malaysia earns roughly $20 billion annually through tourism ─ "and they only have beaches" ─ while Turkey earns $40b.
Pakistan's visa regime "used to be open until about 1965 onwards", he said, adding that the country is "a paradise for tourism."
"We have mountain tourism, religious tourism, beach tourism, cities and huge food tourism. For this initiative, all agencies and departments put their heads together at the prime minister's suggestion," Chaudhry had said.
The government has decided to provide the e-visa facility to 175 countries and visa on arrival to 50 countries, he said. Visa on arrival will also be provided to Indian-origin British and American citizens holding United States or United Kingdom passports.
Tour operators that are approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will now be allowed to bring groups of tourists to Pakistan, he said.
Additionally, the process for acquiring a work visa to nationals of 96 countries for business purposes has been eased, Chaudhry said, with applicants receiving their visa in 7-10 days after the Board of Investment issues them a letter.
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