Passport woes: Does the world need to know we are Muslim?

Published: April 20, 2011

Muslim identity and Pakistani nationality are not co-related

Whenever I travel overseas I feel uncomfortable when the immigration officer opens my passport and looks through my personal details.

It’s not because the colour of my passport is green; what annoys me is the fact that he knows my religion. Why should I tell the official that I am a Muslim? Is my nationality i.e. Pakistani, not enough?

Does it matter if we are Muslims or non-Muslims? We are Pakistanis. Is that not enough for an identity?

I, for one, do not understand the reason for having a religion category on one’s passport, especially seeing all the problems our country has faced because of religious divisions. In the last 50 years or so, the nation has been divided into several religious sections. We have divided the society into Muslims and non-Muslims.

Some might not consider this to be an important issue. But, to tackle the major challenges being faced by our country, we first need to look at the internal problems which we have created ourselves.

Former President Pervez Musharraf tried to abolish this section from the passport when he was in power, however, he back tracked when religious extremists protested. No wonder all leaders are the same (at least in Pakistan’s case). They are strong against civilians but weak when it comes to extremists and external enemies. Musharraf did what one can expect from a Pakistani dictator. He bowed in front of religious zealots.

Being religious is not a problem as long as you do not force your beliefs on others. In our case however, we have taken a very extreme position and scores of people have been killed due to it. People have been killed merely because they belong to a minority community of the society, or because they have expressed their opinions on different religious matters including the blasphemy law.

We need to ask questions which can bring improvements in our society. Questions like why do we want to discriminate against our non-Muslim Pakistani brother and sisters? They are Pakistanis and they love Pakistan as much as we do.

We do not need to tell everyone what faith we believe in. We are Pakistanis and that should be enough for the world and for ourselves.

Shahid Mahmood

Shahid Mahmood

A certified public accountant living in Dublin, Ireland.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sherjeel

    Dear Why are you ashamed of being a Muslim?????Recommend

  • jun

    in new passports , there is no religion tab in the first main page that usually immigration officers look .Religion tab is in next page.Recommend

  • patriot

    you’re saying like all the problems in our country are because of the religion. What about muhajirs killing pathans and balochis killing punjabis? does religion teach racism? What about the corrupt govt and the lazy and cheat public, does religion teach corruption? What about illiteracy and ignorance, did religion tell us to stay away from knowledge? And if your answer to all these question is yes, then you might be literate but you’re still ignorant of religious teachings as you are confusing mullahism with islam. And ignorance is what is the real problem of pakistan and pakistanis, not religion. Focus on the core issues, this is a non issue.Recommend

  • Architect

    It’s just ur problem dear Shahid Mehmood.. on the other hand me & a great majority of pakistan like to be known by their religion and we r proud of it.Recommend

  • Blah

    ooh yeah and if your not religious or an antagonist there is no way to distinguish you..pakistan recognizes only two religious categories. “Muslim” or “wajib-ul-qatal” Recommend

  • ZM Quadri

    @Architect:
    Great. I agree wid u !Recommend

  • Salman

    It was Gen Zia who introduced the religion section in passport in 1980. Does this mean we weren’t Muslims until Zia brought this section in the passport? There is no religion column in Saudi Arabian passport or any other Muslim country’ passport. Even Israel which is a religious state (Jewish) has no religion column. We have wording of “Islamic Democratic Republic of Pakistan” on passport which is enough to tell the world who we are.Recommend

  • Tony

    I agree with points the writer is making. When traveling to other countries, it shouldn’t be an issue (unless there is solid evidence that the person is planning on harming people – merely being a Muslim doesn’t qualify).

    And I also agree that the state of Pakistan is wrong in its policy of letting you obtain a green passport if, and only if, you declare that Ahmedis are non-Muslims (as though being a non-Muslim is bad, btw). Nor should job applications, or any other application or form, in Pakistan make you declare what religion you are. Nor should Pakistanis think it’s in good taste to ask random strangers on the street if they are Muslims or not.Recommend

  • Ameer

    Very, Very well written article! 5-stars! I completely agree with everything you said. For some reason Pakistanis are very insecure about their religion (something that can be reinforced by reading some of these comments). Just because the author understands that religion is a private matter and doesn’t have to be publicized doesn’t make him ‘ashamed’ of being a Muslim. Religious intolerance and bigotry have been bred in the hearts of our people, starting from our textbooks in school that teach us to hate. Now it’s become so bad that being anything other than Muslim is considered blasphemous, which can be seen by way we treat Christians or Ahmadis.

    Personally, I’m agnostic – which is why it’s really annoying that my passport assumes that I’m Muslim. Religion cannot be standardized, as everyone follows it to a certain extent.Recommend

  • Architect

    Pathetic way to announce “I am a liberal”Recommend

  • smrky

    i agree with Architect …

    well im a proud Muslim Pakistani :) Recommend

  • Muhammad Ilyas Khan

    Fully agree with the writer! We don’t have to wear our religion on our sleeves to prove our identity. This show is completely pointless.Recommend

  • FM Qureshi

    Bad article!Recommend

  • Ali

    @Architect:

    Pathetic way to show ”I am a Muslim”Recommend

  • Salman

    Architec & ZM Quadri!

    Who were we before Gen Zia introduced religion section in the passport? Did 150 million people become Muslims in hands of Zia in 1980?Recommend

  • Salman

    @Architect:
    Who were we before Gen Zia introduced religion section in the passport? Did 150 million people become Muslims in hands of Zia in 1980?Recommend

  • http://digitaljesus.wordpress.com Anthony Permal

    @Architect:

    One question, and I would Love to hear your answer and logic behind your answer:

    Why does no other Muslim country – including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, Afghanistan, Brunei, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Syria, Iraq, and others have the ‘religion’ option?

    Are they not Muslims?

    @topic, brilliant article. Recommend

  • Waqas Ahmad

    I endorse writer’s views and salute his courage to post such article under prevailing scenario while being well aware of the level of tolerance amongst our countrymen on religious issues. Recommend

  • Waqas Ahmad

    @patriot: I agree to the probs mentioned by you but not the priority …..
    1: The importance of an issue varies from person to person, so this Issue might be important as well as critical for a few people who may happen to be Pakistanis and who might be getting affected by this ……
    2. Whatever happened to freedom of expression.
    I thought one could write comparatively freely in Pakistan nowadays (thought so at least untill Mr. Taseer was murdered). If one deems it important / worthy enough, he / she can comment / act on it. If not, fine, ignore it. However, how can we ask others to stop writing about something they deem important enough for them or for others ……. again intolerance ……. SadRecommend

  • Waqar Zafar

    First of all; we don’t need the religion column on passport. But if it is there, I don’t see any problem in it anyway. I have travelled the whole world on green passport and I never have any problem with this religion column whatsoever. I agree with Architect, that it is seems purely your own problem then the problem of masses …Recommend

  • Waqar Zafar

    @Anthony Permal:
    The simplest reason of incorporating the religion column in Pakistani Passport was to eliminate any chance of Ahmedi travelling to KSA for any reason (Hajj-Umra) and I am sure you must be aware of the obvoius reasons why they are barred to entered in KSA. Whereas, other Muslim countries in the world either don’t have Ahmidies, or have quite a few number of it, therefore there is no need of religion column in it.

    Must you need any further elucidation of the subjected matter; please feel free to ask me …Recommend

  • Saad

    I would only like to ask the author… Why does it bother u so much ??? If there’s an Incident behind it, do share..

    I have travelled all across the world and never has any Custom’s Official bothered to ask clarifications/ cross-question me for my religion tab.
    As far as the fact goes, that no other Muslim Country carries this tab; in my humble opinion it’s upto the goverenment & the regulatory body to decide what information their should be on the passports besides the International Travel requirements.

    If it bothers u so much, change ur passport…!!!Recommend

  • AZ

    Please remove religion from passport please……… I totally agree with the author. Recommend

  • Salman

    @Waqar Zafar:

    Is it our responsibility to stop non-muslim going to KSA? Why can we not stick to our own country and our own problems? Its KSA goverment problem to make check who is coming to their country not ours. Our Sunni community fighting to Shia on KSA bhalf. Are we KSA’s client state?Recommend

  • Maria

    It is understood that if you are from a Muslim nation you are most likely a Muslim. It becomes redundant. Having said that, I find the people who get the most scrutiny and trouble at airports are the nationals of Iran and Arab countries. I don’t think that they have a religion column in their passport but just being from Iran or an Arab state means you are subject to greater scrutiny.Recommend

  • bilal

    It is indeed shameful that we are the only muslim country in the entire planet that lists religion on passport. No one outside this country cares at all about listing someones religion. As a traveler, many confused immigration officers have asked me why Pakistani govt even has this section!

    For all the religous fanatics who think listing people as Ahmadiyya or another sect on the passport will keep them from going to hajj should know that mullahs will gladly issue a certificate of conversion for this (at profit) exact reason so those who really want to go to can go.

    This section in the passport only shows to the world how intolerant we are.Recommend

  • Amer

    I have lived in the US for a long time and went thru immigration multiple times but never even thought of the religion column on my green passport. The author is so naive to think that not having the religion on his passport would make him feel more comfortable infront of an immigration officer!! Hiding your religion so that others might not judge you differently! What a Pathetic Pathetic Pathetic existance!! Way to go Mr. Liberal, why don’t you just tear out your green passport and get some other passport anyways…Recommend

  • Khan

    So we keep Ahmadiyyas from going to Hajj and Umra, but Ismailis / agha khanis / and every other sect is listed as Muslim because they have the financial clout to keep the Pakistani govt from listing them as non-muslim?

    Its time we eliminate this stupid column and let God decide whose pilgramage he accepts rather then Pakistani Govt.Recommend

  • Musthaq Ahmed

    Our neighbors , the indians , do not have this problem. Many a time you do not know an indians religion by his name. We aspired for heaven and landed in hell. After all we got this country by direct action. We suffer all the reactions that followed !Recommend

  • Shariq Qureshi

    We like to fight, and we don’t really need a reason to do so. Stating religion on your passport or identity card shouldn’t be an issue, but then to be honest what is the need?

    Arguing on the basis of and supporting the act of putting religion on the PP just so that members of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiya cant travel to KSA point toward the limited vision of certain groups and individual. Only objective that Mr. Zia-ul-Haq acheived from this exercise was limited to pleasing the so called religious groups, and it is easy to see the direction where this unnecessary appeasement has led our country.

    Thumbs up to our politicians for pleasing and supporting those who kill in the name of religion.Recommend

  • Ali

    Absolutely brilliant article Shahid, I am not a liberal nor a fundamentalist, Its a matter of logic here, Lots of people have asked me this question abroad. This is just absurd having the passport with a tab of religion, I am proud of being a muslim but i dont need to show around and its my personal thing. Another way of depicting how religion is penetrated into the state roots, unless that is not separated we are not moving forwardRecommend

  • Ali

    @Waqas Zafar

    shame on you for your pathetic existenceRecommend

  • Fatimah

    Now a days they know from our names.
    I am Irish but my name is Muslim which confuses most
    and don’t think I am not treated differently because
    I am .. A Muslim is a Muslim no matter what country
    they are from. Recommend

  • saeed ahmad

    An article towing the policy of Tribune…oh sorry, other point of view cannot be published as blogRecommend

  • patriot

    @ Waqas Ahmed: intolerance? dude are you high or what? he expressed his priorities, I mentioned mine. where did intolerance come from? now do you guys want everyone who doesnt agree with your priorities to just keep their mouth shut? the comment section is here for some reason dude, grow some brains please

    yeah I know there are people who are getting affected by this issue, but its only a problem of a minority in ahmadis who are able to go for hajj i.e. only the rich ahmadis. And giving much more preference to something that concerns a small portion of a minority while that minority and the country as a whole is fighting serious issues is absurd IMO. As absurd as KPK people wasting their time, resources and energies on a mere name change which hasnt done any good to their quality of life nor to the country itself. When your system is collapsing as a whole, you start rectifying the major issues first, the necessities, luxuries (issues like this or KPK) only come later. But no, had we been so organized and intelligent as a nation then we’d probably have no issues at all in the first placeRecommend

  • Arif

    I think it is foolish to blame Zia for all the ills of the country. Zia’s long been dead, there has been a whole generation grown up after him. Based on the comments above and the general condition, it is obvious that things have gone south after Zia and the policies the so-called succeeding democratic governments kept or changed.

    In any case, the intent of the article is praiseworthy. However, the environment is totally not conducive for such talk. Kudos anyway.Recommend

  • Imran Ahmad Khan

    Just a clarification, during Mush’s time, the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” on the passport cover was replaced by “Pakistan”.
    I don’t see any “religious” problem with that. Its simple, your country”s name should be on the cover. The country’s name is “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. Change the name and then change the cover, I don’t have an issue.Recommend

  • seharish

    I Quote u ‘Does it matter if we are Muslims or non-Muslims? We are Pakistanis. Is that not enough for an identity?’
    before being a Pakistani’s we are Muslims.. what r u chicken?.. i would wear a badge saying ‘I am a Muslim’ if they required that.. i would proudly say i am a muslim.If ur not proud of ur religion then ur truly not a muslim.

    and i quote u again ‘Being religious is not a problem as long as you do not force your beliefs on others.’ who is forcing what on whom??? please! noone is forcing anything on anybody. Get real okay?
    angain u said ‘We do not need to tell everyone what faith we believe in. We are Pakistanis and that should be enough for the world and for ourselves.’
    I mean really? I love my country but i love my religion more.. being a Muslim is an honour u dont deserve then if u cant handle a tiny fact that our religions name be printed on our passports.. Recommend

  • Abdul-Mughis Rana, Lahore

    Dearest Shahid Mehmood,
    The present situation is a test from God!
    Muslim means the one who follows the word of God in the manner of Prophet Mohammad pbuh and one who does it would never feel shy of being mentioned as one. In a way its good to mention religion in the passport otherwise they may ask to present the only difference which is hidden which would mean highest degree of shame!
    You know why God sent so many Prophets pbuh? And made few Muslims and more non Muslims? Why Heaven (Janna’)? Why Hell (Dozakh) and why all is hidden? Who will tell the whole humanity about God and Prophet Mohammad pbuh? And why its difficult to do easy, and easy to do difficult? Why day and why night? Why right and why wrong? Recommend

  • Danish S

    @Waqar Zafar & Saad:
    Sure you guys didn’t have problem with it traveling abroad but why should a non-muslim Pakistanis be subjected to have their religious belief made public when they arrive at a Pakistani airport? Why should they have to tell the officials that hey I’m not a muslim so carry on with your bigotry (sure not all immigration officials are bigots but some are). Pakistani people need to learn how to cater to other religious sensitivities as they so want the rest of the world to cater to theirs…Recommend

  • hassan

    From the comments section, at least from the majority of the comments, I see a classic technique on ‘How To Defeat Your Opponent In Argument’ at work.

    Your opponent presents a strong point of view and you find yourself in an indefensible position.

    What do you do?

    Immediately, you adopt the stance,”ok, ok, it may be so…but I am proud of it !”

    Your opponent looks down and he knows he is defeated !!

    I am sure the author feels the same way with the ‘So What We Should Be Proud Of This’ arguments !!Recommend

  • NR

    Great read!

    Recommend

  • http://London Hasan

    @Waqar Zafar:

    The simplest reason of incorporating
    the religion column in Pakistani
    Passport was to eliminate any chance
    of Ahmedi travelling to KSA for any
    reason (Hajj-Umra)

    So we are doing the job what Saudis should be doing. I hope we are being paid handsomely for that.

    How long are we going to be stooges of other countries? If Saudis want to bar someone from coming over it’s their business and worry. We should worry about who comes to over country and let Saudis do their own job.Recommend

  • Waqar Zafar

    @Danish S:
    First of all; if you read my statement properly you would understand I am not in favour of having religion column in it. Secondly; if the religion column is there, as it is now a days, what’s wrong in it? 3% of Pakistanis are non Muslim population in Pakistan and if there religion is written in Passport, that doesn’t mean they’ll be treated differently from Muslim Pakistani citizen. Pakistan is their country too. Now if you are giving me this logic that just because of there religion they might have problems in immigration @ any port in Pakistan then I am truly sorry to say, I don’t buy this point. Likewise, just because of religion anyone have problems @ any port of the world, is another something, beyond the conventional understanding of me. Let me again clarify that my argument is not that I want this column to be there, I am in favour of not having religion column in passport as religion is more of personal belief then a thing to openly declared but my argument is if it is there, I and the masses of Pakistan including the non Muslims doesn’t have any problem with the it …Recommend

  • Waqar Zafar

    @Ali:
    I truly completely agree with your arguments. Your comment does reflect the true sentiment of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan. He does state that too, religion and affairs of state are two different entity and have nothing to do with each other …

    Perhaps you misinterprets my comment. I am not in favour of having this column, but my argument was if it is there then that shouldn’t be a problem for anyone (Muslim or non-Muslim) either. And as of you saying; people abroad ask you why they have religion column in it then why are you feeling ashamed of it? For example if any USA citizen asked you this, did you ever asked him why USA Passport have falcon picture in it? Why doesn’t a panda, cat, dog picture instead? If any British citizen asked you this question, did you counter question him, why British Passport colour is Red? Why not orange, blue, black, Gray yellow? If any Indian asked you this then did you asked why they have lions on the front page of there passport? Why they don’t have snake, elephant, or rats seal at the front? If all of them have logics and reasons behind it then you can also tell them that because you are Muslim and that is why the religion column is there in my Passport and that is with the consent of Pakistani government which doesn’t need any logic behind it whatsoever …Recommend

  • http://London Hasan

    @Waqar Zafar:

    The simplest reason of incorporating
    the religion column in Pakistani
    Passport was to eliminate any chance
    of Ahmedi travelling to KSA for any
    reason (Hajj-Umra) and I am sure you
    must be aware of the obvoius reasons
    why they are barred to entered in KSA.

    How do you explain the section on religion on educational institutions’ application forms?

    Punjab University B.A./B.Sc. Admission Form

    Is Hajj involved here too?

    The section on religion is everywhere not just on Passports. It is very obvious this is religious profiling to the highest degree, to enact systematic persecution and discrimination on religious grounds. So much for equal rights for all citizens. Why do we complain of discrimination against Kashmiris and Palestinians? Pakistan itself is officially a religious apartheid state. The only difference between apartheid era South Africa and us is they did it on the basis of race and we do it on the basis of religion.Recommend

  • Waqar Zafar

    @Hasan:
    We are doing our part of work and that is; defining who is Muslim and who is not? My advice to you is to read Pakistan 1973 constitution and read the definition of Muslim in it. Now for the clarification of my fellow friend I write the aforesaid lines, which I think was not appropriate. Let me take this opportunity in rephrasing it; we are just filtering the pure Muslim as per the definition of Muslim per 1973 constitution of Pakistan and that is it. Once you’ll read the definition of Muslim per 1973 constitution of Pakistan, all ambiguities surrounding your subjected matter will surely be clarify …
    NB: Muslim definition is also written in Pakistan Studies 9th Standard, just in case you didn’t find it any where …Recommend

  • http://London Hasan

    @Waqar Zafar:

    NB: Muslim definition is also written
    in Pakistan Studies 9th Standard, just
    in case you didn’t find it any where …

    Yes I know, our textbooks are bigoted and incite hatred and discrimination instead of encouraging harmony. Any surprise we have the comments that we have on this article? We must change our textbooks as soon as possible.Recommend

  • MS – Mariya

    @Hassan: You always play the role of PHAPA KUTNI – back biting, complaining like a rejected old lady. Always exaggerating issues and never ever providing issues. Pakistan is not an ideal state and what it needs is positive talking with action. If you can’t do that for your own sake keep quite. Ever heard of KARMA – what goes around comes around. Watch out!!!!!Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Look its a “Non issue” the writer doesn’t want to disclose religion on his Passport but his name might tell who he is. Or even if he is not muslim but has name like “Bhatti” “Ahmed” “Khakaan” or “Amir” the caution light will appear on immigration elsewhere. Just for the sake of argument should we or should we not have religion tag in passport, I think it we should and that shouldn’t be the reason to raise eyes brows cause that would be discrimination.

    Now this “Non Issue” as expected has an umbrella over various “Real issues” like minority persecution, I think minorities all around the world when Muslim are treated much worse than Non Muslims here in Pakistan. That’s a whole different debate but we can and we need to improve the treatment we give to minorities, Like Christians, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Aga Khanis and Some Jew who should have their Place for worship as I know they reside here in Pakistan. But with EXCEPTION to “AHMADIs” export them to UK. Recommend

  • Abdul-Mughis Rana, Lahore

    @Anthony Permal:
    Why we have a separate country because we have a different background the countries you mentioned may not need as their Government’s policy does not requires so!
    This question is basically absurd!! Why have a passport, why have different countries aren’t we all humans?
    I say as @ Seharish said it well minus the chicken part though!
    All Muslims are believers they are Recommend

  • MS – Mariya

    @Author: You have a valid point but the way you said it was not right. It came across as if you are ashamed of being Muslim. Or you think that being a Muslim will cause you problems and are looking for ways to hide it. I went abroad to study after 9/11 and because of my fear never use to admit that i am a muslim or Pakistani. Thank god I realized soon that running away from my identity is not a solution because if someone discriminated you for being muslim…well they have a problem and need help.

    Now I make it a point to say it loud that I am Pakistani and Muslim!!! and guess what..majority people respect it!! Recommend

  • J

    To have your religion mentioned in your passport is absurd. It serves no purpose at all, then why should we have it in the first place?Recommend

  • hassan

    @MS – Mariya:
    “Now I make it a point to say it loud that I am Pakistani and Muslim!!! and guess what..majority people respect it!! ”

    If you say in Pakistan, naturally people will respect it !Recommend

  • Muhammed Ali

    Somebody finally raised this issue; i believe pakistan is enough information there is no need to write islamic republic blah blah….. and also the religion tab is lame as it’s very personal! Which should not be highlighted, so long live secular pakistan!!!Recommend

  • http://London Hasan

    The section on religion on either the Pakistanis Passport or on other official papers is there for bigoted reasons simple as that.
    Anyone who is proud of religious section is proud of this bigotry as you would expect from most educated ‘moderate’ Pakistanis these days. And the next thing they will do is complain of discrimination in other countries against them. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. No more complaints of discrimination please, you are proud of it.Recommend

  • ghazan

    @KHAN

    Ismailis are muslims because they believe in “Khatam-e-Nabuwat’, and consider Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as their last prophet. I think this is enough to consider them muslims.Recommend

  • Salman

    I am ashamed of that religion column too.
    I really don’t understand what is there to be proud of being born a Muslim, as if this is better than being born of some other religion.
    But in Pakistan has almost everything to be ashamed of is surviving, and everything to be proud of is being destroyed. Recommend

  • Shahzad

    All those defending religion being mentioned in the Pakistani passport are doing so merely out of ignorance. They really know no better. Their entire life seems stuck in some ancient irrelevant belief system which they choose to drag out at their convenience. Most of them are closed minded bigots, even if at first glance they might not appear to look like one. The totally incorrect moral superiority of the average Pakistani Musalman is truly appalling. They cannot imagine life, without the crutches this warped version of Islam they cling to seems to provide them. And how out of touch with the real world they are. These imbecilic becharas are best left to wallow like swine in their self created cesspools.Recommend

  • curious1

    @Waqar Zafar So you accept only 1973 constitution’s Muslim definition and not Quran or Rasul’s (SAW) definition, then your Almighty Allah must be your constitution or any dictator who created that definition. There is no definition in the constitution, that is enforcement for political purposes to solve ,90 years, problem.
    @Fahad Raza
    Religious fanatics and Mullahs have degraded Islam up to its lowest grade and now people do want not to mention religion any more. It was basically created by a dictator to please Mullahs and to satisfy his Qadiani/Mirzai animosity for his own ego (he or any of his loved ones may have been disgraced by any Qadiani when he was young) but it has back fired this way that Pakistanis who have non-Muslim passports readily get political asylum on the basis of already proven statewide religious discrimination. BTW KSA do grant visas to Qadianis in most of the countries for Haj and Umra. I know there are people who try to get their passports issued under the pretext of being Ahmadi or Qadiani just to get political asylum in Germany, Canada, USA and so.
    It is an excellent article with a good reasoning that this is not the responsibility of the state to discriminate via religions and it was not the intention of the creation of Pakistan.Recommend

  • faraz

    We follow the faith of the family into which we are born in. Just as we feel ‘proud’ to be muslims, so do the christians, jews, hindus, ahmadis etc. feel proud of their religion. Being born in a muslim family is no achievementRecommend

  • Omar

    Great Article. And in my opinion it is one the highest degree of discrimination. No good can come out if a Country tells their minority citizens at every point that they are the minorities therefore a making them understand that they are a lower class !!!Recommend

  • http://www.campusdig.com Hamid

    We have to label Islam because we are the caretaker of Islam and perhaps Islam is surviving cause of us. I wonder, why don’t we tattooed Muslim at our forehead?
    I would must say – brilliant article !! Recommend

  • Henna

    I can’t believe how many people want this articled REMOVED (wow, so you can say have the religion listed, but the author can’t say, DONT have the religion listed?). All i can say about such people is that theyre extremely “jezbaati” and irrational.Recommend

  • Danish Kamal

    Cause we are true Muslim and perhaps the only . . . .Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    @curious1
    it was not the intention of the creation of Pakistan.
    It was the intention of the creation of Pakistan. Why do you think it was hardly contested by Muslims of subcontinent what was the reason of migration of Muslim from the length and breadth of India from places like UP,CP, Madras etc. Well Religious scholars are the reason Pakistan is still on the Map, you like it or not is your choice.

    Now it is just time “bad time” which will pass those who jump from the board are lost for sure and those who remain will find glory. Its just less than 2 years to change thing 180 degrees from left to right. Have hope and foremost FAITH.Recommend

  • Raqib Ali

    I believe in Islam and that is my belief. Why tell someone that you are a Muslim when the other person hasn’t even asked???

    If you must write religion, then also write how good… whether the person prays five times or not. Whether the person drinks or not. Why not tell the whole story.

    Before someone
    knows that you are a
    Muslim, tell them whether
    you are 50% Muslim or more (or even less).

    Only having a per centage will clarify and make the other person judge you as a Muslim. What’s the point of writing Muslim in my passport and the first thing I ask in transit airport/flight is alcohol!!!Recommend

  • http://www.sidrahmoizkhan.blogspot.com Sidrah Moiz Khan

    Erm. Why don’t you just become an atheist, dude :D?Recommend

  • http://bleedinghumanity.wordpress.com Ahmed Aziz

    I like it. Good article. We are all human beings. Being a Muslim does not make us superior. It makes us even inferior because by classifying other religious as wrong and inferior makes us bigots of the 1st class. That is the truth.Recommend

  • http://dinopak.wordpress.com Hasan

    I will have to agree with the writer here, not that I am not for declaring one’s religion, but the reason for which it was put in it. People rightly pointed out the fact that NO other nation in the world has this requirement. And to the apologists who are ‘proud’ to show their faith and are also ‘proud’ of the fact that Ahmadis can’t travel to KSA, let me disappoint you.

    Ahmadis don’t just reside in Pakistan, they are all over the world, I personally know many Ahmadis who go for Umrah on British, Canadian, American and even on Indonesian passports, so your argument is baseless and pathetic. While it isn’t easy travelling with the Green passport these days, thanks to the glorified Taliban who are the caretakers of Islam, the activities that have been carried out in the past two years (Airplane bombings etc) have all been blamed on ‘Muslims’. Therefore it is a volunteer invitation to the ‘full body scanner’ and an endless stream of questions, where you have to basically tell the customs officer things you deem private.Recommend

  • ANONYMOUS

    That’s the problem in Pakistan that even the so called educated class is not ready to discuss any matter rationally and logically. Specially if the issue even touches religion remotely. The author of this blog is just musing about whether it is absolutely essential that the religion tab be included in our travel document .There is no need to gang up on him and call him (gasp) a liberal . By the way being a liberal doesn’t mean that you are an Atheist.Declaring ourselves Muslim or Non Muslim on a piece of paper is neither here nor there. Many in our country are Muslim only because they were born to Muslim families other than that they have nothing to do with religion. I don’t agree with the premise that it’s exclusion would make a change in the behavior of the immigration officers in other countries towards us. Any man, woman or child carrying a Pakistani passport is suspect in their eyes. Those who suggest that it was done in Zia’s regime to keep Ahmadis out of KSA argue with outdated facts. In the first place it is not our duty to man the immigration booths of Saudi. It is their job to keep the unwanted out of their borders. Secondly after years of persecution so many Ahmadis have left Pakistan to acquire other nationalities and passports. Those countries don’t require them to declare their faith on paper. How does KSA keep them out?Recommend

  • http://fruitforbidden.wordpress.com fruitforbidden

    This is such an important thing you mentioned! We have this kind of discrimination ever since School! Pakistani means nothing! Either you are sindhi/ punjabi/ pathan/ balochi and further if you are muslim or non-muslim. Of course, there are no better grounds to categorize the people of this land.Recommend

  • AnisAqeel

    @curious1:
    I fully agree. Recommend

  • http://www.tarpley.net Moise

    Muslim in passport is needed since we dont want false prophets followers going to Mecca masquerading as Muslims. If one feel shameful in front of immigrations is because one has less confidence in his religion and looking for approval from others.

    As for Musharraf removing it from the passport just shows which side of planet he is on.Recommend

  • AnisAqeel

    @ghazan
    Don’t play God, it’s He who decides.Recommend

  • Madiha

    Spot on, Seharish!Recommend

  • Islamic Scholar

    Just for everyones information, Saudi Arabia happily gives Hajj/Umra visas to all shades and flavours of “Islam” which includes Nation of Islam (which believes in Elijah Muhammad as a prophet), Nawaubu (believe in a prophet called Malachi York), even some sects in Iraq that worship a Peacock and yes even to Ahmadiyya!

    The only purpose of this silly column in our passport that lists religion is to show how bigotted we are as a country. That we identify people by religion.

    All those who scream about discrimination in the west against islam are the biggest hypocrites on earth as they do the same in Pakistan. But apparently their closed minds cannot see through this hypocrisy so they will repeat non-sensical nationalistic phrases that make no sense. Carry on in your savagery, you get your comeuppance in your daily life as so called Muslim Taliban carry out their sacred deeds across the country. Recommend

  • ayesha

    I agree with the writer.
    Religion isn’t required in my passport details. That’s my ‘personal’ information. Reading a few peoples comments I won’t be surprised if they start adding ‘marital status’, ‘household income’, etc to their passports. Recommend

  • 007

    The growth of Islam in the West is the fastest compared to other religions. Its just a matter of time before these issues end. However, the bias against Muslims by Western authorities is indeed disgraceful and of 3rd class mentality! Recommend

  • Kashif Aziz

    Lets talk “Is there any harm if we declare that we are Muslims?” Also, I dont see any benifit of hiding the religion behind a so called ‘Pakistani terror suspect’? Recommend

  • Kashif Aziz

    We have to decide the root cause of shame we feel. Is this because of religion or being a Pakistani? Instead of getting rid of the one, better take a bold step of leaving it and declare you are not a Pakistani or in other case a Muslim. Lets put the Islam aside first, because that was not your choice, …Islam doesn’t need youuu if you dont.Then wait and see who accepts you, start begging for some but not a green travel document, make an effort to remove that dark genes off your off-blacky skin for future generations…if you can? Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    Lol @Danish.

    Yes, Pakistan has the ‘only’ true Muslims. Haalat dekho mulk ki.

    @all, the comments here show the comprehension of some of our Pakistani brethren and sisters. The article has nothign to do with being ‘ashamed’ or ‘embarassed’ of having ‘Muslim’ on the passport. The issue is ‘why’ should it be on a passport.

    If it is a matter of stopping a few hundred people who are allegedly ‘heretic’, then it is a very silly thing to print millions of passports with a requirement on it for just a few hundred.Recommend

  • hasan

    @everyone ,

    that is how the media sell things and make money by poking sentimental issues….Recommend

  • faraz

    @Sidrah Moiz Khan

    So if the column of religion is removed from the passport, you become an atheist? And a Muslim who becomes an atheist is an apostate, therefore he should be killed. How did Islam thrive before 1980 when there was no column for religion? Or when there were no national states which issued passports? Pakistan is a geographically defined piece of land, and everyone living here must be treated as equal. Why do you want to allocate the status of second rate citizen to someone who isn’t a Muslim? The world doesn’t care whether a person with Pakistani passport is Muslim or not, it only represents our condescending behavior towards non Muslim Pakistanis.Recommend

  • closedstreet

    We want to keep Islam everywhere except in our routines and practical lives. Apart form “Name: Islamic Republic of Pakistan”, “blasphemy law” and “religion section in passport”; we keep the Holy Quran at some high place in home, out of reach, and rarely read (and very rarely understand).

    This is the way we work. This is the way our politicians play around. This is the way religious parties misuse the religion. And form several comments on this article (opposing, requesting to remove, cursing, wailing, etc), I learned that this is the way we react and debate.

    Its not only passport, there is lot to remove but who will bell the cat.Recommend

  • http://Multan Blunt!

    Truly speaking, the world really doesn’t care if u’re Muslim or not But being a Pakistani Muslim, certainly gets eyes rolling!Recommend

  • Danish Kamal

    Perhaps this passport will also help to travel to paradise !Recommend

  • Waqas Ahmad

    @patriot:

    @ Waqas Ahmed: intolerance? dude are you high or what? he expressed his priorities, I mentioned mine. where did intolerance come from? now do you guys want everyone who doesnt agree with your priorities to just keep their mouth shut? the comment section is here for some reason dude, grow some brains please

    Dear respected fellow …… The difference in expressing the priorities was that he raised something worth-mentioning for him and you are suggesting that he shouldn’t have. You are not disagreeing but giving him a Shutup call altogether, which prompted me to comment and ultimately get all this reason-loathed reaction from yourself. You can’t stand the word intolerance, f9 with me. Suggest a word n we shall call it dat. Besides, in my opinion, this priority thing for nations doesn’t happen like this. Every patriot does, on a daily basis, what best interests / suits him / her and then tries to keep the same aligned with the national interest as well. My “brainless” point was only that why should we become judgemental and tell others on what they ought to do even on issues what we deem non-issue and unimportant. Recommend

  • Nadeem

    Do not speak at such issues. Don’t think even. Don’t forget the end of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti. Beware of mullahs and religious extremists – who only believe “rod is the logic”Recommend

  • parvez

    Great article.
    Reality is, to travel with a ‘green’ passport is a hassle. Musharraf not only correctly tried to remove the religion column but he also had simply Pakistan put on the cover. The chicken that he proved to be, caused him to back track within days on both counts.
    The religion column really is not the issue, if its there or not makes no difference. It just pushes religion to a ‘in your face’ status, that apparently small minds like.
    The real issue is the pariah position our leaders (most of whom carry a diplomatic or a second passport) have managed to bring us to in the world at large.Recommend

  • hasan

    @everyone ,
    that is how the media sell things and make money by poking sentimental issues….Recommend

  • Ayesha

    I wish i could remove that from my passport.

    I am a proud Muslime, but that’s between me and Allah…the Immigration Officer totally doesnt need to know!Recommend

  • Salman

    @ Kashif Aziz

    Leaving Islam is punishable by death. Islam needs Muslims to be forced to remain Muslims otherwise more and more people will start leaving Islam.

    The shameful part is we are acting as if Islam also needs itself mentioned in the passport.
    We Muslims should be ashamed of making Islam look so weak.Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    Moise wrote: “Muslim in passport is needed since we dont want false prophets followers going to Mecca masquerading as Muslims. If one feel shameful in front of immigrations is because one has less confidence in his religion and looking for approval from others”

    In that case, Mr. Moise: why exactly do Christians and Hindus and atheists in Pakistan need to fill the religion column? Recommend

  • http://dinopak.wordpress.com Hasan

    @Salman:

    Leaving Islam is punishable by death. Islam needs Muslims to be forced to remain Muslims otherwise more and more people will start leaving Islam.

    Wow, I am amazed at your ignorance. Do you think Islam is so ‘demanding’ that it requires for Muslims to remain Muslims forcefully? You sir straighten your facts, there is no punishment for apostasy in Islam, kindly go through the posts I made about it and please before you make any claim, come forth with proper research.Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    Hasan, there may not be any punishment for apostacy in Islam itself, but among Muslims there does seem to be this punishment. In my home, we used to receive calls from Muslims wishing to convert to Christianity, as we worked closely with the Church in our area.

    90% of the people who wanted to convert were usually beaten up by their neighbours, not family, NEIGHBOURS. The reasoning: be thanksful we aren’t killing you instead. Now stick to Islam’.
    And no, I’m not making this up.Recommend

  • e

    Pakistanis are obsessed with religion. Even your news articles are religion-centric and all this makes one wonder if you are totally bereft of any other topic besides religion. Its this over indulgence in religion that gives rise to fanaticism and narrow-mindedness – traits of which Shahid Afridi showed in abundance after he landed in Pakistan post the semi-final loss to India in the WC.Recommend

  • Shock horror

    Of course the world needs to know about your religion so that they can keep an eye on you and take preventive action to stop the spread of terrorist activities in the host country. Recommend

  • AnisAqeel

    @Fahad Raza:
    If Pakistan was created with the intention of Islamic laboratory to practice it, why most of the Islamic parties opposed it? Google Pakistan and read history of those days, 1947 and before and not the history of 1976 and after. Read the scripts of Quaid’s speeches how he wanted Pakistan to be run? No religion is perfect and Islam is no exception (72 times is a perfect example of being imperfect).
    There is no need to be ashamed of being a Muslim or having any other faith but it is simply showing that Muslims of Pakistan feel so much insecure of their religion or so much dominant of their brand of Islam that they want it on their passports. Anyone traveling abroad (and the one who feels immensely proud) may write on their foreheads to show that he is a Pakistani Muslim instead of discriminating for bigotry purposes.
    Pakistan comes first and then comes Islam as teaching of Islam says your country is first even if it is a non-Muslim country, axcept that government stops you worshipping Allah.
    @Ayesha @closedstreet
    I 100 percent agree with you.Recommend

  • Omar

    @Islamic Scholar:

    Could not agree with you anymore! The same fools that cry about discrimination overseas, are the same fools who happily discriminate against Ahmadiyya, Christians, Hindus.

    Religous listing on the passport shows to the world how Savage and backwards we are nothing else.Recommend