India-Pakistan To Ease Visa Norms For Visitors

by
staff
The new visa policy between India and Pakistan, to be signed on Saturday, has eased restrictions on visitors from both the countries.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani

ISLAMABAD: The new visa policy between India and Pakistan, to be signed on Saturday, has eased restrictions on visitors from both the countries.

There will be a single-entry visitor visa for a maximum period of six months but the stay cannot exceed three months at a time and for five places (currently limited to three places).

Also, business visa has been separated from visitor visa, a communique said.

Under a new category, a visitor visa for a maximum of five specified places may be issued for a longer period of up to two years with multiple entries to senior citizens (above 65); spouse of a national of one country married to person of another country and children below 12 accompanying parent(s).

Also, transit visa will now be issued within 36 hours instead of 72 hours.

Under the existing visa agreement, the single entry visa is issued for three months for meeting relatives, friends, business or other legitimate purposes. However, the visa can be issued for a longer period not exceeding a year owing to the nature of work or business.

Pakistan's interior minister Rehman Malik and India's external affairs minister S M Krishna will sign the agreement. Krishna is on a three-day visit to Pakistan.

Malik on Friday said: "The biggest thing is that the visa agreement will be of benefit to the common people of both India and Pakistan. There is no loss for anyone in this."

Meanwhile, Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan's foreign minister, hasn't offered much hope of speedier progress on the trial of top Lashkar leaders accused in the 26/11 terror strike.

Two other agreements - on allowing people to cross LoC for pilgrimage purposes and a cultural exchanges deal - are also being discussed.

Khar promised a new approach to India and insisted it was not in Pakistan's interest to allow 26/11 to "fester into an issue" in bilateral relations but countered India's concern on the trial by pointing to the slow progress in the Samjhauta Express case where Pakistani tourists were targeted by Hindu extremists. "If you doubt our intentions, look at the case of Samjhauta Express. We have said that once the process of co-examination of evidence, the opportunity of that is provided, we can hope for some forward movement," she said.