Interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Monday a plan to grant visas on arrival to nationals of 15 countries, including the United States, Canada, France and Iran, would be sent to the cabinet for approval tomorrow, Tuesday.
In 2019, Pakistan first announced it would loosen travel restrictions in the hope of reviving tourism by offering visas on arrival to visitors from 50 countries and electronic visas to 175 nationalities.
“Tomorrow, we are sending for approval to cabinet visa on arrival for 15 countries,” Ahmed told a weekly press briefing. “First there were 50 countries that were getting on arrival visas. Now it will be 65 countries.”
He said the interior ministry had also approved issuing e-passports to Pakistani citizens, saying Pakistan would be the first country in the region to introduce the facility:
“In today’s meeting, it is decided to go for the e-passport. So that Pakistan should become first country in this region, so that we switch to e-passport as quickly as possible.”
The minister said 15 new security features were being introduced to make the Pakistani passport “more secure,” adding that the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) would review and verify all records to purge them of fake entries.
He added that the government had installed an Integrated Border Management System (IBMS) at the Torkham and Chaman borders with Afghanistan to keep a check on people entering and leaving the country.
“The good news is that the number of Afghans going back is greater than the people coming in from Afghanistan,” he said.