Pakistan, India open talks on relaxed visa regime

08:50, June 03, 2011      

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Senior Pakistan and Indian interior ministry officials Thursday opened a two-day talks in Islamabad to introduce a "relaxed visa regime" and to promote people-to-people contact, officials said.

An Indian delegation led by joint interior secretary G.B. Nawasan is taking part in talks with Pakistani counterparts.

Both sides will review proposals to soften the strict visa formalities of 1974, and initiate a new accord as people in both countries complain about long delay and restrictions in getting visas.

During the India-Pakistan home secretary-level talks in New Delhi in March, both sides agreed to set up a joint working group (JWG) to examine the modalities for streamlining the visa procedure/modalities and giving a final shape to the revision of the Bilateral Visa Agreement, according to a joint statement.

Officials from both sides are hopeful to make progress in the Islamabad talks as the dialogue process has now got momentum after a two-year deadlock over the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan and India have indicated they are positive in liberalizing the visa regime to facilitate greater people-to- people contacts between the two nations.

During the talks, a proposal had been put forth to relax norms for issuance of visa to journalists, businessmen, senior citizens and patients traveling for medical treatment.

Under the proposal, the visa issued for journalists, businessmen, senior citizens or patients traveling for treatment will not be city specific and visa holders would be allowed to travel across the country, according to officials.

Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram says India is "positive" to liberalize visa regime with Pakistan to facilitate greater people- to-people contacts between the two nations.

"We have liberalized considerably but in the Home Secretary- level talks there was a suggestion that we should meet again and a joint working group should be constituted to explore further liberalization," he told reporters in April.

Source: Xinhua
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