The Interior Ministry has declared that Pakistan will no longer be offering the visa-on-arrival facility under the garb of landing permits. This is in line with the Interior Ministry’s attempts to streamline the visa process and clamp down on espionage activities from other countries. The move is not likely to have an effect on bilateral visa waiver agreements with foreign dignitaries’ passports; but now those accompanying them must have valid documents prepared in advance. The Interior Ministry’s argument is based on a sensible principle – irregularities in the visa process have caused the country numerous problems, one of the most memorable of which would be the Raymond Davis affair.

It is not as if other countries offer Pakistanis the option to get visas on arrival, whether it’s for landing permits or otherwise, which is why the government’s move must be fully supported. The country’s visa regulations are very lax, especially for foreigners hailing from developed countries and this must change, especially considering that the terrorism problem has more or less killed the tourism industry. Under the new provisions under discussion, tourism is not likely to be affected if the government keeps the visa process simple, impartial and transparent.

Among other changes to the visa regime, an online application system and greater transparency in line with pre-existing visa regulations is also on the cards. The Pakistani government is currently in the process of making its border crossings safer, and travel through air and sea must also be more regulated to achieve a more comprehensive travel mechanism.

A central visa database would go a long way in establishing greater internal security and keep Pakistan more secured from internal threats. It remains to be seen how the Interior Ministry handles this though, the Interior Minister has successfully pointed out all the holes, now he must get to filling them.