Secretary-level talks: Pak, India finalise new visa regime

Published: May 25, 2012

Pakistan’s interior secretary K M Siddiq shakes hands with his Indian counterpart R K Singh. PHOTO: ONLINE

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan and India have finalised a new visa regime that seeks to do away with the decades-old strict travel restrictions on cross-border movement of their citizens.

Understanding on the new agreement was reached here on the first day of talks between the neighbouring countries’ interior secretaries, said a Pakistani official.

The negotiations, which have stretched over a year, are part of the ongoing peace process, which has picked up momentum in recent months.

On Thursday, Pakistan’s Interior Secretary Khawaja Siddique Akbar and his Indian counterpart RK Singh discussed issues related to counter-terrorism, exchange of prisoners and the new visa regime.

While the two sides struggled to reach common ground on issues such as the trial of suspects of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the Samjohta incident, major progress was made on the new visa agreement. The new visa regime, which is expected to be signed today (Friday), will pave way for increased people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

The Indian home ministry said “the revised agreement inter-alia introduces the concept of group tourist visa, visa on arrival and a separate category of business visas.”

The visa will be a major facilitator for businessmen, who have in the past six months been encouraged by the overwhelming response at exhibitions in Lahore and New Delhi.

The arrangement will also be favourable for pilgrims on both sides.

‘Indian concerns’ on trial

As expected, the Indian home secretary voiced concern over what he called “slow progress” in the prosecution of the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.

“It seems that the progress in the judicial proceedings against them (persons charged with involvement) is very slow. Many accused persons have not been brought before the courts,” R K Singh told the media before the meeting with his Pakistani counterpart.

He added that India had shared additional evidence with Pakistan linking Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed with the attacks.

The Indian secretary also said that the Mumbai attacks and the Samjhota train tragedy should not be seen in the same context.

Responding to the reservations, Pakistan’s Interior Secretary Siddique Akbar termed the Mumbai trial a “sub judice matter”, saying that Islamabad was discussing all issues with New Delhi with an open mind.

The second round of talks will take place in Bhurban, Murree today, after which the two sides are expected to issue a joint statement.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2012.

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (6)

  • Indian
    May 25, 2012 - 6:49AM

    This is not europe. No need to change visa regime for pak. No country in this world gives visa concession to pak. Period.

    Recommend

  • Indian
    May 25, 2012 - 7:15AM

    No visa to pak unless their text book become secular. Imagine when these people visit India with their religious mindset. They are damaging western society so definately they are gong to harm Indian secular values.

    Recommend

  • Sunny
    May 25, 2012 - 7:50AM

    Good Going !!!

    Recommend

  • JSM
    May 25, 2012 - 7:52AM

    Samjhauta attack was allegedly carried out by Indians in India. The preparators of the crime are in custody and are being tried in a court of law.

    Mumbai attack was planned in Pakistan. The planners are roaming free- for said lack of evidence. On the other hand, the doctor who helped in identifying Osama has been handed over a prison sentence within less than a year of his “crime”. Is there a legal system in Pakistan? Or they only talk and take selective actions?

    Recommend

  • John, the atheist
    May 25, 2012 - 10:06AM

    Say NO to PAKISTAN!!!

    -Indian

    Recommend

  • ufaquarian
    May 25, 2012 - 7:34PM

    @ Indian , @ John – Guys comeon !! think on the benefit the common people would reap on both sides of the borders. there are divided families as well as we do attract each other . Case in point why are you commenting on a Pakistani newspaper , its the attraction to Pakistan :) same is the case why we Pakistanis would have watched almost every indian movie. All pakistanis arent terrorists nor support terrorists views. We feel bad about the Mumbai attacks too. Normal relations would trigger decrease in defence budgets on both sides and the savings can be invested on both nation’s citizens benefit. !

    Recommend

More in Pakistan