A parliamentary panel has voiced its reservations over delay in implementation of a new visa regime recently signed between Pakistan and India.
The Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Relations met on Friday at the Parliament House to discuss the status of the Pakistan-India visa accord, as well as the visit of the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances.
Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani told the panel, which was headed by Senator Haji Adeel, that the agreement had yet to be ratified by the cabinet which is necessary for formal implementation.
An official statement said the committee’s chairman and other members expressed their concern over delay in implementation and directed the interior ministry to expedite the process of ratification from the cabinet at the earliest.
The historic agreement, which seeks to do away with decades-old strict travel restrictions on cross-border movement between the two countries, was signed last month during the visit of Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to Pakistan. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also attended the committee meeting and briefed it about the recently concluded visit of the UN mission on missing people.
Senator Haji Adeel and other members of the committee endorsed the initiative and said the visit of the working group had helped highlight Pakistan’s stance on the issue.
Khar said the group was not on any special mission to Pakistan, and was neither a commission nor country specific as the group had already received an invitation from more than 90 countries and had already visited around 30.
Khar maintained that the ministry had carried out an extensive exercise, including inter-ministerial consultations, over the group’s visit. She also apprised the committee of the preliminary report of the working group which, she added, had many positive things.
The committee also asked the ministry of foreign affairs about the reasons behind the postponement of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Pakistan.
The committee’s members noted that Pakistan, at a regional level, desires to develop a cordial relationship with all countries, adding that the visit would have had positive impact on the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Russia.
Foreign Minister Khar pointed out that Putin postponed his maiden trip due to scheduling issues and had nothing to do with any other issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2012.