In a first, the heads of intelligence agencies of India and Pakistan are expected to accompany their respective Home-Interior secretaries over talks for a new, relaxed visa regime between the two neighbouring countries, The Times of India reported on Tuesday.
Pakistan’s secretary of Interior Khawaja Siddiqu Akbar and his Indian counterpart Home secretary RK Singh are due to meet in Islamabad between May 24-25 to hammer out a liberalised visa regime. They are due to be accompanied by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director AP Singh and National Investigation Agency chief SC Sinha.
The talks will also focus on cases related to terrorism and take forward confidence-building measures along the Line of Control (LoC), a senior official of the interior ministry stated.
“Yes, an Indian delegation headed by Home Secretary has confirmed its arrival to Islamabad on May 24,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Moazam Ali Khan. “The main objective of visiting delegation is to discuss visa and terrorism related issues.” The spokesperson said that the delegation would consist of 12 members.
Some sources told TOI that the topic of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and others is may be raised in the meetings. The source added it is also possible that Pakistan raise the issue of Samjhota Express attack, a train service which had been launched between India and Pakistan, but was attacked by extremists, killing as many as 68 people.
Pakistan and India are all set to finalise major changes in their decades-old existing strict bilateral ‘visa regime during this week’s secretary-level talks, which may serve as a catalyst to normalise ties between the archrival neighbours.
Official sources on both sides had told The Express Tribune that it was not yet clear if a compromise will be reached on all the proposals, although agreements have been chalked out on a number of points in previous low-level negotiations.
If a compromise is reached this week, the new ‘liberal visa policy’ will be signed when foreign ministers of both the countries meet in July this year.