Pakistan Bans Passport Issuance for Asylum Seekers Abroad: Affecting Pakistani Christians

Farrukh Saif

June 19, 2024

Pakistan Bans Passport Issuance for Asylum Seekers Abroad

In a major move in the name of national security, the Pakistani government has announced a new policy prohibiting the issuance or renewal of passports for its citizens seeking asylum abroad.

Federal Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi approved the decision, which follows concerns over unauthorized migration and the alleged misuse of asylum provisions by some people.

Directive By Ministry of Interior
Directive By Ministry of Interior

Directive By Ministry of Interior:

The Ministry of Interior has issued a directive stating that any Pakistani citizen granted asylum in another country will be ineligible for a Pakistani passport. Existing passports held by such people will be revoked and not renewed.

The policy applies to all Pakistani citizens who have either applied for or already received asylum abroad, regardless of the grounds cited, including political reasons.

Minister Naqvi has directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant authorities to effectively implement this new policy, underscoring the government’s commitment to maintaining strict control over passport issuance processes.

The move aims to curb the unauthorized migration of Pakistani citizens under the guise of asylum-seeking, following complaints from some countries about people seeking asylum by allegedly lying about danger to their lives. Minister Naqvi of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s claim is entirely baseless. According to asylum laws, the country where a person has filed for asylum is strictly bound not to share the asylum seekers’ information.

Refugee Laws: UNHCR Advisory

According to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, which outline the rights of refugees and obligations of states, emphasize the principle of confidentiality regarding asylum seekers’ information.

The UNHCR Advisory Opinion also stresses the importance of maintaining confidentiality of asylum data and information to protect asylum seekers from potential persecution or harm in their countries of origin.

Based on these rules and laws, Minister Naqvi claims it appears to be a false statement with a hidden agenda. This can have serious implications for Pakistani citizens seeking asylum due to political crackdowns or religious persecution.

Reactions and Implications:

While some have lauded the decision as a proactive measure to prevent passport misuse and protect national security, others have expressed concerns about potential limitations on people’s rights to seek asylum.

The policy is expected to have a major impact on Pakistani citizens seeking refuge abroad, potentially hindering their ability to travel and access essential services.

The United States State Department has criticized the policy, stating that it could violate human rights. However, the Pakistani government maintains that decisions regarding passport issuance will be made in accordance with its own laws and national interests.

As the implementation of this policy unfolds, its implications on asylum seekers and Pakistan’s relations with other countries will be closely watched.

Will this Affect the Pakistani Christians:

This new policy will badly affect Pakistani Christians. As thousands of Pakistani Christians have sought refuge in Southeast Asian nations and European countries, citing threats from blasphemy laws, societal discrimination, and religious extremism in their homeland. This decision could severely restrict their freedom of movement and access to essential services, potentially leaving them in a precarious situation in the host countries.

As a Christian rights organization, we have serious concerns that the policy could violate the fundamental rights of persecuted religious minorities seeking asylum on grounds of imminent danger to their lives and liberty.

Farrukh Saif

Farrukh H. Saif, a courageous Christian human rights activist, established the Farrukh Saif Foundation in 2009 to confront religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, and bonded slavery in Pakistan. His dedication to liberating bonded laborers from brick kilns and advocating for blasphemy victims and asylum seekers has garnered international acclaim. Despite encountering threats and fatwas, his impactful work persists in supporting marginalized communities. In 2018, the foundation merged with The Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved, enhancing its global outreach.

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