Does Nepal have the worst passport in the world?

Nepal's passport ranks worse than North Korea
Photo by Madeinepali
The immigration officer at the other end of what looks like a bullet proof window at the Japanese Embassy here in Seoul, looks at my passport. Then goes over all the documents I had carefully assembled over the week; Letter of invitation, letter of guarantee, certificate of pending graduation, my alien registration card, my bank statement, you name it. There were all there. 

Everything seemed to be fine until that moment when the officer ushered me to pick up the intercom. 

"Mr. Maskey, we cannot accept your application because of your current visa status in Korea. Please change to D2 visa and come back again."

I looked at him as if I had just seen my beer nicked out of my hand. 

"I just changed my visa status from D2 to D10 today."

"Then change it back. We don't issue Japanese visa to D10." and then pushed my application back on the sliding tray. 

Didn't take a graduate degree in aerospace engineering to understand that the conversation was over.

I was angry. I wasn't angry at the immigration officer, no. I was angry at my passport. I just wanted to throw that in the bin and walk out. But I couldn't because last time I did somehow manage to get myself rid of it, I had to pay $400 to get it re-issued. Yes $400 for a passport that takes you no where.

Nepal, as you see, is one of the poorest nations of the world. That has prompted a mass exodus in whatever form possible. During the civil war that wrecked the already poor infrastructure in Nepal, Nepalese found a way to take refuge in countries that would take them. Even after the war, there were many who gave up completely legitimate jobs to acquire refugee status outside. I had come across a Principal of a school in the remote district of Bhojpur who said that he was accepted as a refugee in the US and was planning to leave the year after. And that one was no isolated incident.

Nepalese, on top of that, also seem to have a habit of disappearing where ever they go. In the recent Asian games held here in South Korea, this happened [HERE]. So it's not just civilians but civilians who come specifically to represent their country, decide to vanish into thin air. Students like myself, who go abroad to study, end up getting residency in that particular country either through legal channels or completely illegal ways and super glue themselves to the host nations.

Can't blame them either. The country is a mess. The system which is in place is not functioning. As the Japanese who coaches the Nepalese national football team mentioned recently in FIFA TV "There are no rules here. Either that or people don't follow them." Failed state? maybe but for genuine working class of people who just want their careers to move ahead, have to face severe difficulties in just about anything they do. "Humiliation" states my mom who is possibly the most hardworking woman right now in the government, "every time we go outside, we have to face humiliation."

Who is to blame? the government for such shitty passports? the people for state that we are in? or the countries not trusting us? I mean, can we really blame them with such sparkling track record of disappearances? With Nepal's passport consistently ranked as one of the worst [HERE] & [HERE], it is hard for the next generation of Nepalese youths to travel around, build connections and seriously learn. Genuine people who actually want to create a career which could eventually lead a change in Nepal are just having to waste their time, face immigration officers who just look at their passport make faces they don't want to see and walk back without a visa. 

It's annoying, frustrating, unnerving, let me tell you that. 


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