Pakistan passport remains fourth weakest in the world! Here’s the country’s 15-year journey to the bottom

Bulbul Dhawan
Passport index, Pakistan passport, weakest passport, strongest passport, visa-free access, prior visa, countries to travel without a visa, passport rankings, Henley Passport Index, passports of the world

Passport Index: For keen travellers, getting to visit a country without the process of applying for a visa is the icing on the cake. However, it seems that neighbouring Pakistan is low on that list, with the Henley Passport Index report of 2020 ranking it as the fourth weakest passport in the world. The strength or weakness of a passport is determined by the number of countries which can be visited visa-free by the holders of that particular passport. Holders of the Pakistani passport can visit only 32 countries in the world without requiring a visa. Pakistan is sharing this rank with Somalia. The only countries behind Pakistan are Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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The Henley and Partners Research Department has been publishing this report since 2006. Over the last 15 years, Pakistan has seen a gradual decline in the strength of its passport. In 2006, when the first report was published, Pakistan's passport was the 79th strongest passport in the world. This is also its peak position. It was tied with Albania, Cambodia, Sudan and Lebanon and did not require a prior visa for 17 countries.

In 2020, Albania has reached the 54th position, with access to 114 countries, Cambodia is at the 88th position with visa-free access to 54 countries, Sudan is at 100th position, not requiring a prior visa for 39 countries and Lebanon is at 99th spot, with its citizens having visa-free access to 40 countries.

Pakistan then fell to 83 in 2007, when it was tied with Myanmar. This year, Myanmar has been placed at the 94th position, not requiring a prior visa to visit 47 countries. In 2008, Pakistan's rank further slipped to 87, however, the number of countries for which it did not require prior visa increased to 25. It was tied then with Iran and Somalia. The same position also prevailed in 2009.

In 2010, it further fell to 90th position, with access rising to 36 countries. Pakistan was tied with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is now at the 98th place with visa-free access to 41 countries, and North Korea, which has been ranked 100th in 2020 with its citizens being able to visit 39 countries without requiring a prior visa.

Pakistan's passport was ranked 99 in 2011 and the number of countries Pakistani passport holders could visit without requiring prior visa fell to 31. Standing at the 100th place in 2012, Pakistan tied with Palestinian Territory with holders of both passports having access to 32 countries without requiring a visa.

In 2013, Palestinian Territory surpassed Pakistan, even as the latter's rank rose to 91st place. Pakistani citizens could visit 32 countries without a prior visa. It was tied with Somalia. While Pakistan and Somalia both fell to 92nd place in 2014, the access remained to 32 countries.

In 2015, Pakistan fell to 107th place, its lowest ranking yet, but it surpassed Somalia, which was ranked at 108th place. Pakistani passport holders could access 31 countries, 1 less than the number of countries accessible to them in 2014.

Rising to 103rd place in 2016, Pakistan's access fell to 29 countries. Despite elevating to 102nd place, Pakistan had access to only 28 countries in 2017.

Falling to the 104th position in 2018, Pakistan was able to improve its access to 33 countries. While its rank remained the same in 2019, its access was reduced to 31 countries and it was tied with Somalia. 2020 is the third consecutive year that Pakistan's passport has been ranked 104th, although the number of countries accessible to its citizens has marginally increased to 32.

Meanwhile, Japan has retained its position as the strongest passport for the third consecutive year with access to 191 countries. India has slipped from 82nd position in 2018 to 84th place this year, with its access falling from 59 countries to 58.