Regional grouping: Visa-on-arrival facility proposed for SAARC

Published: August 6, 2014
“Free movement of business persons in the region is crucial and multiple-entry visa policy must be adopted on a reciprocal basis,” said Saarc CCI Pakistan delegation leader Iftikhar Ali Malik. PHOTO: STOCK IMAGE

“Free movement of business persons in the region is crucial and multiple-entry visa policy must be adopted on a reciprocal basis,” said Saarc CCI Pakistan delegation leader Iftikhar Ali Malik. PHOTO: STOCK IMAGE

ISLAMABAD: The Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry demanded visa-on-arrival facility in Saarc countries to boost socio-economic prosperity in South Asia.

“Free movement of business persons in the region is crucial and multiple-entry visa policy must be adopted on a reciprocal basis,” Saarc CCI Pakistan delegation leader Iftikhar Ali Malik said as he addressed the concluding session of a special meeting of SCCI.

He said that in prevailing global economic scenario, India and Pakistan, the two most powerful members of Saarc, should enter a suitable trade regime. “Time has changed the concept of economic prosperity and member countries have taken the lead. Saarc countries badly need to work together with a shared vision and stronger linkage to eliminate poverty and bring self-reliance and prosperity to the region. We need to fully exploit the indigenous natural resources and untapped mineral deposits, to strengthen economic conditions on the pattern of trade blocs like Nafta, EU, Asean and COMESA. “

He said that it was the need of the hour that all eight nations in South Asia must work to meet common challenges, especially those which threaten security, peaceful co-existence and progress.

Saarc is home to more than one-fifth of the world population, making it the largest entity. The region comprises 45% of young population and possesses 12% of the global natural resources and untapped resources.

Talking over the unique characteristics each country has, he said India was the fourth largest economy, Pakistan was a hub of textiles, Bangladesh was the centre of the garments industry, while Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka were emerging destinations of tourists from all over the world.

It is unfortunate that the world development indicators present a bleak picture of the region on global economic fronts despite having enormous potential. The contribution of Saarc countries in global GDP is less than 2 % and its share in exports is only 1.5 %, which does not reflect the potential, Malik added.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • novisa
    Aug 6, 2014 - 9:43AM

    Safety of citizens is paramount, far ahead of trade. India would be crazy to grant visa on arrival to Pakistanis ( while most people are good, a significant terror risk exists). India would also expect Pakistan to not grant visa on arrival to its citizens.


  • Karachi Mirchi
    Aug 6, 2014 - 9:52AM

    As much of a chance of this happening as snowfall in August.


  • Aksam Khalid
    Aug 6, 2014 - 9:54AM

    I hope it happens , visa situation for Pakistanis is deplorable and its high time Foreign Ministry and ambassadors should play their part. We are among the top 5 worst passports to be used for international travel. Any and every significant country has closed Visa On Arrival for Pakistani’s.


  • Strategic Asset
    Aug 6, 2014 - 10:31AM

    No mention of MFN? And still they expect trade?


  • sharabi
    Aug 6, 2014 - 10:31AM

    Except Patients who needs specialty medical treatments & their family members India should not grant Visa on arrival to Pakistani citizens.


  • Karachi Mirchi
    Aug 6, 2014 - 10:46AM

    @Karachi Mirchi: Not because of the ‘terror threat’ but because SAARC countries are still living in the 17th Century world. Eurostar runs 21 trains a day from London to Paris; takes 2 hours and 20 minutes, and that is after the French and British have fought scores of wars for hundreds of years.


  • Indian
    Aug 6, 2014 - 11:28AM

    For India , Nepal and Bhutan requires no Visa . SL and BD people can enter any time illegally . But they are not that dangerous . Pakistani people should not be given such facilities . Otherwise bombs will explode in India in broad day light . Where is Mr.Ajit Doval ?


  • Danish
    Aug 6, 2014 - 12:43PM

    Indians on this board pretending to be citizens of a developed nation with no visa restrictions! On a side note this topic is about SARC and doesn’t talk exclusively about India.


  • Jay
    Aug 6, 2014 - 12:53PM

    Keep Pakistan out of such arrangements, every other SAARC country is fine…….


  • D
    Aug 6, 2014 - 2:58PM

    Saarc could be a great bloc to increase travel and trade but because of one terrorist country, it will fail as OIC.


  • ajeet
    Aug 6, 2014 - 3:13PM

    compare list of countries having visa on arrival between India and Pakistan. You would know that truth is different from what they teach you in madrasa


  • ModiFied
    Aug 6, 2014 - 4:20PM

    Renounce Jihad and everything will fall in place. Who will give VISA on arrival to the followers of Zaid Hamid and Hafiz Saeed ? Even bearded cricket players of Pakistani origin look scary on fields.


  • Indian Observer
    Aug 6, 2014 - 6:08PM

    @Karachi Mirchi:
    There are many things that happen in Europe that could – and should – be replicated in South Asia, but alas (unlike in Europe) there is the element of extremist Islam that creeps into relations. Terrorist attacks engineered in – and by – Pakistan have driven the final nail in the coffin of bilateral and regional relations. I can put my hand in fire and bet that 99% of Indians would not like to give a visa-on-arrival facility for Pakistani nations. Indian politicians cannot afford to ignore public opinion in democratic India. The memory of the 2008 Mumbai carnage is still fresh- what is frustrating is that the perpetrators – the real killers – run scot-free in a country that has become a lawless society, where the power of the gun (and not law) reigns supreme. Until that changes, I do not think much will change. But if trade is indeed on your priority list, as some Pakistanis profess but many Indians doubt, then you will take a small step by reciprocating India’s gesture of giving Pakistan the MFN status. India gave this status to Pakistan more than a decade back. Would you not say it is time for Pakistan to respond in kind? This is a small step, I know, but like the saying goes, the long distance becomes easy to reach by taking the first small step.


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