Friday, February 19, 2010

Passport to Paradise

Passports have become a bit of an obsession with me ever since I left India. I find it amazing how much of your respect and dignity is tied into your passport. If you are the proud owner of the right passport – ie, British, EU, American, and Australian – you can skip in and out of most countries at will regardless of your job, income, education or marital status. But if you have the wrong passport – ie, any non-white country passport – you better be working, have a healthy bank balance, be reasonably well-educated, definitely married, and preferably have your return tickets plastered on to your face before you even dare venture into the visa offices of most countries.

But no one earns his or her passport. A quirk of fate (or an errant grandmother, according to this blog) may be all that it takes.

Which is why, I have a totally different take on the current political stand-off between Britain and Israel. As the political blog Pickled Politics points out, the British government’s reaction to Mossad agents using fake British passports to kill the Hamas leader in Dubai is utterly overblown considering its timid mumbles over Israeli bombing of Gaza in December 2008, which killed over 1,500 innocent Palestinians. The author of the blog appears baffled by Britain’s bluster about human rights and international law in this case. But what he probably doesn’t understand is that British government isn’t protesting over the human rights violation or the breaking of international law by Mossad. It is only and plainly worried about the undermining of British passports by the Israeli Secret Service.

If British passports can be seen internationally as easily faked, then what is to stop countries from insisting upon prior visas for British passport holders before entering their borders? After all, in 2009, UK decided to stop South Africans from entering the UK without prior visas because it felt that the South African passport system was too weak, ie, SA passports could be easily faked.

You see, the reason why British government wasn’t terribly worried about the death of 1500 Palestinians was that it didn’t obstruct the travel plans of British tourists. Mossad’s latest antic could. And that is why, in the humble opinion of this Indian passport holder, Gordon Brown has got his undies in a knot.

If the author of Pickled Politics thinks I am exxagerating, he should read what happens when you have a wrong passport, here and here.

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