India, Pakistan activate new travel visa agreement
_A Monitor Report
Islamabad : Pakistan and India put into operation a new visa agreement on December 16 when Rehman Malik, Pakistan Interior Minister and his Indian counterpart Sushil Kumar Shinde, operationalised the new regime, said a press statement issu-ed by state-ow-ned Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC).
According to the press statement, the visa-on-arrival will come into effect from January 15, 2013, and the group tourist visa from March 15, 2013. The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs on December 16 issued a circular to this effect to all the Indian missions, state governments/ union territories, foreigners' regional registration officers (FRROs), FROs, and all concerned. India and Pakistan had signed on September 8, 2012 a new visa agreement to facilitate travel for the nationals of both countries desirous of travelling to the other country and to promote people-to-people contact. Key features of the new visa agreement are :
Places of visit allowable increased from three to five places; in exceptional cases, visitor visa for one year was issued in the past. Now provision has been made to issue visa up to two years in the following cases; Persons above 65 years of age; National of one country married to national of the other country; Children below 12 years accompanying parents in second case cited above; Visa on Arrival can be granted at Attari/Wagah check post to persons more than 65 years of age for 45 days with single entry (effective from January 15, 2013).
Exemption from police reporting for business visa granted to businessmen with an annual income above Pak Rs 5 million or equivalent or annual turnover above Pak Rs 30 million or equivalent.
Group Tourist Visa
Group Tourist Visa for 30 days may be issued for travel in groups, with not less than 10 members and not more than 50 members in each group, organised by appro-ved tour operators/travel agents (effective from March 15, 2013).
Entry and Exit
Now entry and exit from different designated immigration check posts can be allowed, if indicated in application; However, exit from Wagah/ Attari on foot cannot be accepted unless the entry was also on foot via Attari/ Wagah.
Speaking on the occasion, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Indian Home Minister said that the new visa agreement would facilitate easy movement of people across the two countries. A Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, said that he has come to India with a message of peace and assured India that Pakistan will take all possible steps to work together with India for moving forward for the sake of future generations.
The Indian and Pakistani delegations are also holding a bilateral meeting on issues that include counter-terrorism border management, fake Indian currency notes, and cooperation among security and investigation agencies.
The official delegation accompanying Rehman Malik includes officials from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Federal Administration, and High Commission of Pakistan in India.