If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while or are one of my close friends, you know that my desire to see Pakistan has been unquelled for the past few years.
So, it’s with a heavy heart and much sadness that I write this: I was rejected for a tourist Visa to Pakistan without reason.
This is my first Visa rejection and the process has offered a glimpse into how difficult it must be for people from non-Western countries to secure Visas for travel. As an American, I often take for granted how powerful my passport is and how it allows me absolute entry into almost every country–something for which I’ve always been grateful (and a bit guilty).
I jumped through every hoop; prepared all my paperwork exactly to a T–following the instructions on the website; heeding their advice for entering “n/a” into fields so that I didn’t have any blanks. I had extensive paperwork from my friend’s tour company in Pakistan; his company’s registration; and a copy of his ID. I went over and over the instructions, double- and triple-checked the list. I called the consulate to ensure I had everything in order and to make sure there was nothing else I needed to do to get the Visa.
And then, two weeks later I get an email. “I’m sorry to inform you Miss Smith, that your Visa was rejected and we’ll be mailing your passport back to you tomorrow.” When I inquired as to why it was rejected–what I could do next time to ensure I have everything in place so I could get a Visa–I was told that there wasn’t a reason given.
Disappointed and sad don’t even begin to cover the range of emotions I feel about this. I know that I’m not entitled to anything and everything I want in this world, but I also didn’t think entire countries would be completely off my limits; completely out of my grasp. Especially a country like Pakistan where its people are begging the world to come visit–to see that their beautiful country is not what’s portrayed in the news. That it’s more than a hotbed of terrorism and misogyny.
I had my whole itinerary planned out and couldn’t wait to meet local people. To see how women were treated in the country. To see how the children live and play. To see all the natural beauty and historical monuments. Having been to India twice, I wanted to see how Pakistan differed, yet was once part of the same country.
For a country that wants good publicity from tourists, and who wants to boost their economy and see more visitors embracing them again after decades of bad press, I was surprised to be rejected. Don’t you want people to come and spread the good word about what a wonderful country you have? Don’t you want people to contribute to your economy and want to come back to do more?
The only two things I’m left to consider as reason for rejection are my Indian Visa in my passport, and the fact that there have been a lot of secret American spies living in Pakistan over the years.
But Pakistani government officials–I assure you I am not a spy. I am just a girl who loves a good adventure and wants to explore your country and culture.
I’ll apply again someday, after I get over this heartbreak. And I hope next time I won’t get a big fat rejection again.