Stories about passport

My blue passport doesn’t make me American

There was an incredible comment I read on one of my previous posts about how it’s impossible to live on in the oblivion of being both Pakistani and American. I don’t remember who wrote that to me, but if you’re reading this, thank you. You are a small part of the motivation that inspired this topic you are reading today. I was born in Karachi and lived the first nine years of my life moving back and forth between Karachi and Lahore before moving to the US. Though I can’t recall what the people, culture and society were like ...

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An Indian who moved to Pakistan

This blog post is a response to an article published in The Express Tribune by Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy titled:“Deepening the Pakistan-India divide.” Hence I address this to him. Sir, I know exactly how you feel. I have been feeling the same every year for the last 20 years when I go to seek a visa for India. I have to fill the same form which is ‘special’ for Pakistani Nationals (and it is the same for Indians in the Pakistan embassy). I am not a professor like you who gets an invite and a letter to give a lecture at some university. Nor ...

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In pursuit of greener passports

I had been dreading this day for months. The inevitability of not being able to travel with a valid passport loomed over my head. Despite my fears I was optimistic when my brother and I headed towards Awami Markaz, Shahra-e-Faisal. CNIC? Check. Old Passport? Check. Yousuf in all his glory? Check. Our car was surrounded by zombies moving in for the kill. “Bhai Sahab, are you here for a passport? We can get it done for you and you won’t even have to get in line.” This always sounds too good to be true and it actually is; these “service providers” don’t come for free. ...

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Identity for sale

My fellow countrymen, everything in this country is for sale. Let me elaborate. Recently, my cousin completed his graduation and his family thought it was time to send the boy abroad for higher studies. My uncle, his father, got him all geared up with all the necessary files and documents, but little did he know he was in for a surprise. When they reached the passport office, they were told that there was a problem with my cousin’s identity card. The passport officials then directed them to the office of the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) where the real problem ...

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

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 ...

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Pakistani airports vs international airports: Which is worse?

I’ve been sniffed by dogs, asked to remove my shoes, been randomly radio tested for explosives, questioned by immigration officers and the list goes on. After travelling  to 26 countries, I have realised that being a Pakistani is not easy when it comes to airport immigration and security clearance. I imagined that at least in a Pakistani airport, I would have some respite. But I was so wrong. My worst airport experience was at Karachi’s own Quaid-e-Azam International airport a few weeks ago. I reached the airport at 9pm to catch an 11pm flight and felt dismayed that I would be bored at the ...

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I am a global misfit

After the Margalla Hills plane crash, the catastrophic floods, the Sialkot lynching and many other political dramas, I wanted to take a break from Pakistan. I had had enough and was eager to go to my parents, who reside in Riyadh. But this lack of patriotism came to haunt me during my stay in Riyadh, just two days before I was planning to leave for my much-anticipated trip to Dubai, the place where I was supposed to experience the best of the East and the West (Yes, such was my disillusion with Pakistan at ...

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