The Henley Passport Index on Tuesday released its first report of the new year, retaining the Pakistani passport’s rank at 104 out of 107 for the third year running over the paltry 32 nations that holders can travel to without visas.

Powered by the International Air Transport Association, the Henley Passport Index measures global access on the basis of nationality. It’s ranking of 200 countries provides an in-depth picture of travel freedom, including the countries a given passport allows people access to and the types of visas required.

In its latest report, the Index found that only 32 nations allow visa-free access to Pakistan, tied with Somalia. The only countries with less travel freedom are Syria (with 29 visa-free options); Iraq (28); and Afghanistan (26). Neighboring India, meanwhile, ranks at 84 with 58 nations offering its nationals visa-free or visa-on-arrival access.

The strongest passport, meanwhile, was found to be that of Japan. According to the Index, the Japanese can avail visa-free, or visa-on-arrival, access to 191 destinations around the world. Singapore comes in second with 190; while South Korea and Germany are tied in third place with 189.

The report notes that the gap between the highest and lowest ranking states—Japan and Afghanistan—is the largest it has been since the Index launched in 2006. A Japanese passport holder can access 165 more destinations than a holder of Afghanistan’s, it noted.

The U.S. and the U.K., meanwhile, continued to slide down the rankings. They currently are tied in eighth place with 184 options for ease of travel—a dramatic drop from the number one spot they jointly held in 2015.

The report noted that the biggest success story of the past decade was the U.A.E., which has climbed 47 places in 10 years and is currently at 18th place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 171.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, says the rise of Asian nations proves the benefits of “open-door policies and the introduction of mutually beneficial trade agreements.” The Index also cited political science researchers Uğur Altundal and Ömer Zarpli, of Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh respectively, to have found a strongly positive correlation between travel freedom and other kinds of liberties—from the economic to the political, and even individual freedoms.

“There’s a distinct correlation between visa freedom and investment freedom, for instance. Similar to trade freedom, countries that rank highly in investment freedom generally have stronger passports. European states such as Austria, Malta, and Switzerland clearly show that countries with a business-friendly environment tend to score highly when it comes to passport power. Likewise, by using the Human Freedom Index, we found a strong correlation between personal freedom and travel freedom,” Henley quoted them as saying.

The countries* that Pakistanis can visit without going through grueling visa approvals are: Cambodia, Maldives, Nepal, Timor-Leste, Cape Verde Islands, Comores Islands, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Cook Islands, Micronesia, Niue, Palau Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Dominica, Haiti, Montserrat, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Qatar. Of these, all but eight require travelers to obtain visa-on-arrival.

*This list is subject to change based on the individual policies of the states listed.

Source; News Agencies

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