Noting an improved environment in the subcontinent and resumption of India-Pak dialogue, the journalist community in a statement on Wednesday called upon the two governments to liberalise the visa policy for journalists.
The community has been demanding access to and free flow of information and free movement of journalists and the people across South Asian borders for more than a decade, said the statement.
Foreign ministers of Pakistan and India have time and again promised SAARC Visa Stickers for journalists to travel across the two countries.
The Council of Ministers of SAARC twice decided to issue SAARC Sticker to journalists from member countries, but its decision was not implemented by either India or Pakistan.
Free flow of information and free movement of journalists is a pre-requisite for any kind of confidence building, conflict resolution and meaningful regional cooperation, said the statement.
The statement made two recommendations:
1. Media persons may be granted similar visa as being granted to business persons ie multiple-entry countrywide one year visa, as recommended by their respective trade bodies.
2. India has introduced a special multiple entry one-year visa with no restriction on entry/exit points and exemption from visa forms and police reporting. This can be extended to 200 media-persons on both sides, to start with.
The statement, among others, was signed by: The Express Tribune Executive Editor M. Ziauddin; Pakistan Today Editor Arif Nizami; SAFMA Pakistan President Nusrat Javeed; APNS President Sarmad Ali; CPNE President Khushnood Ali Khan; SAFMA Secretary General Imtiaz Alam.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2012.