Indo-Pak: The lenient power of visa

India and Pakistan signed a key agreement that will ease the visa regime to promote greater trade, travel and people-to-people contacts between the two neighbours, yesterday.

India’s External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik signed the agreement. “This is a sign of friendship,” said Malik.

Pakistani and Indian revellers hold up candles and Indo-Pak joint national flags at the Wagah border on August 14, 2012. Pic/AFP

Before the signing of the agreement, Krishna, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, held wide-ranging talks with counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar.

The agreement, which was struck after months of negotiations, will ease trade and travel between the two countries. Senior citizens, aged 65 and above, in India and Pakistan can now walk across the border between the two countries and without going through the hassles of getting a visa from embassies in New Delhi and Islamabad. They will be granted visas on arrival at the Attari and Wagah border. Senior citizens will be granted a visa on arrival valid for 45 days. Many senior citizens in the two countries have been witness to the bloody partition in 1947 in which millions of people were uprooted after India’s independence and Pakistan’s creation. The new regime envisages changes aimed at easing controls.

There will be a single-entry visitor visa for a maximum period of six months but the stay cannot exceed three months at a time and for five places.

The process, simplified

Group tourist visa, for 10-50 people, will be available for students provided they do not seek admission in the other country Business visa will be issued within five days. People aged above 65 and below 12 years, along with eminent businessmen are exempted from reporting to the police Entry / exit rule will allow people to enter and exit from different check posts and change their mode of travel. “This is subject to the exception that exit from Wagah/Attari, by road (on foot) cannot be accepted, unless the entry was also by foot via Attari/Wagah,” a source said Visitor visa for a maximum of five specified places may be issued for a longer period of up to two years with multiple entries to senior citizens; the spouse of a national of one country married to a person of another country and children below 12 accompanying parents. Also, a transit visa will now be issued within 36 instead of 72 hours

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