The ties that bind: India, Pakistan seal visa accord

Published: December 15, 2012

Interior Minister Rehman Malik to hold bilateral talks with Indian counterpart Shinde. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

NEW DELHI: 

Interior Minister Rehman Malik flew into New Delhi on Friday for a three-day visit where he sealed an agreement to ease tough visa restrictions for travellers and is slated to hold security talks with his Indian counterpart Sushilkumar Shinde.

Malik stressed the need to forget the “dark days” and expressed hope the visa accord would lead to more interaction between the people of both nations.

The two governments agreed to relax visa rules in principle in September, when former Indian foreign minister S M Krishna visited Islamabad

“The journey towards peace is progressing very well, especially with the new visa regime, it will also bring a lot of good for us… let us not create any negativity.”

The visa agreement replaces a 38-year-old restrictive travel pact between the two countries.

No police reporting for children under 12, for adults over 65 and business persons are among the highlights of the new agreement that comes ahead of the Pakistan cricket series – three one-days and two T-20s from December 25 – for which Pakistani fans are expected to travel to India.

India is likely to issue up to 3,000 multi-city visas to Pakistani cricket fans and an additional 300 to VIPs for the cricket series that starts on Christmas day, allowing Pakistanis to cheer on their national team on Indian turf.

The change will also permit visitors to travel to five places now instead of three and some businessmen will get multiple-entry visas, exempting them from reporting to the police.

“This is a baby step towards reducing the tensions between India and Pakistan,” said Ashok Mehta, a former major general of the Indian army. “But it’s still significant, especially because nothing is happening on big-ticket items like border management and terrorism – the real ice-breakers.”

Malik was met at the Palam Technical Airport by India’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs, R P N Singh.

India

“I have brought the message of peace and love from the children, women and men, old and young of Pakistan,” Malik told reporters at the airport.

“We arrested Hafiz Saeed three times. I will make the official records public, documents from the court judgement in which Hafiz Saeed has been ruled innocent. While sitting here in India, I am telling you if I receive evidence now, I will order his arrest now,” declared Malik at the impromptu press conference at the airport.

Malik will be meeting his Indian interlocutors for the first time, both of whom are new – Indian Home Minister S K Shinde and Foreign Minister Salman Khursheed.

According to officials, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde will meet Malik for bilateral talks.

Malik also reportedly met the sister and daughter of Sarbjit Singh on Friday, who is imprisoned in Pakistan on charges of spying. The family requested Sarabjit’s release and for a meeting with him.  Malik assured them that when they come to Pakistan, the Interior Ministry will provide them every possible facility.

Malik will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and opposition leader Sushma Swaraj on Saturday, according to officials. with additional input from AGENCIES)

Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Dec 15, 2012 - 11:38AM

    According to the late, great Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” Salams

    Recommend

  • M. Salim
    Dec 15, 2012 - 1:22PM

    Effective when? Divided families waiting in vain for past +4 monthsRecommend

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Dec 15, 2012 - 1:40PM

    Seal of Visa Accord between Pakistan and India happened at the stage of 7 month of preganancy.

    Had the delivery taken place after maturity of nine months pregancy, India would have allowed to open Pakistani Consulate in Mumbai and Pakistan would have allowed India to open its Consulate in Karachi.

    Let’s see that the baby born during the 7 months preganancy will survive or not?

    In my personal opinion, the baby should be kept in the hospital with the help of oxygen for another two months before the passengers start travelling across the borders.

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  • JSM
    Dec 15, 2012 - 2:23PM

    “Malik stressed the need to forget the “dark days” and expressed hope the visa accord would lead to more interaction between the people of both nations.”

    Yes we can forget the dark days till Paksitani state or non-state actors execute another Kargil or Mumbai.

    Can Malik guarantee that this will not happen.

    Best of luck to India.

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  • Polpot
    Dec 15, 2012 - 4:16PM

    Indian Pres terms Mr Malik as Motormouth
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    With a tongue that never fails to skid!

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  • Ash Kanazi
    Dec 15, 2012 - 5:05PM

    @JSM:
    Kurkare wasn’t investigating Pakistanis when he was shot dead. It is time to leave the Mumbai drama and leave false flag ops to Israelis.

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  • G. Din
    Dec 15, 2012 - 6:49PM

    “… let us not create any negativity.”
    Now who was it that has always created negativity and continues to create negativity, I wonder?
    Pakistan will make sure that Indians will live to regret it!

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  • J.Sandhu
    Dec 15, 2012 - 7:39PM

    It does not matter what Malik says, what counts is what Kayani thinks.

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  • usman786
    Dec 15, 2012 - 10:57PM

    I started liking him over his comments about Babri masjid event thus causing Mumbai attackks. Embaraced the indians – just see times of india – Aman ki Aash at its lowest ebb

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  • john Donne
    Dec 16, 2012 - 7:16AM

    I pray that history does not repeat itself. Let’s read the history of the two world wars caused by the Europeans, which led to the downfall of their good days and empires. Look at the awful state of affairs in Europe now.. I pray that South Asians learn the lesson from European history, and save themselves from similar fate, so they may survive and prosper.

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  • Arijit Sharma
    Dec 16, 2012 - 10:32AM

    @usman786: ” … Embaraced the indians – just see times of india – Aman ki Aash at its lowest ebb … “

    Forget the ebb, what seems to have gone out with the tide is your ability to spell.

    Recommend

  • Polpot
    Dec 16, 2012 - 10:43AM

    @J.Sandhu: “It does not matter what Malik says, what counts is what Kayani thinks.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Applies not only to Malik but also to Zardari, Raja, and others like the FM whose name i cant remember:)

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  • Avatar
    Dec 16, 2012 - 8:54PM

    Thats good news, I have so many great mates from India and I hope to them again :) Cheers

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  • Avatar
    Dec 16, 2012 - 8:56PM

    Well done PPP governement and the last time PML-N was in power we were on a brink of war with India. PPP zindabad the only true democratic party of Pakistan.

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  • Dec 16, 2012 - 11:49PM

    That’s good news….

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