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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Improved ties: Dhaka seeks liberal visa pact

Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 14, 2013
First Published: 23:55 IST(14/1/2013) | Last Updated: 00:45 IST(15/1/2013)

India and Bangladesh are set to finalise a new visa pact later this month that was prompted by complaints that India’s visa regime often applied the stringent rules applicable to Pakistan to Bangladeshi citizens.

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Dhaka also wants India to lift the restriction placed on its citizens from re-entering India within two months of their last visit.

“Bangladesh does have a valid point,” a home ministry official told HT. “Somehow, the existing visa regime does not reflect the vast improvement in the ties between the two countries over the last few years,” he said.

Last month again, India had bracketed Bangladesh with six countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Sudan when it lifted the restriction of a two month gap on re-entry of foreign nationals for all but seven countries.

The internal security establishment is open to the idea of correcting some of these distortions that have crept into the system due to the presence of anti-India elements in Dhaka, particularly during the previous Khaleda Zia regime.

The new visa pact that is expected to be signed in Dhaka during home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s visit would address a significant part of Dhaka’s grouse.

It would have most of the positive elements of the liberalised visa pact with Islamabad — signed last year — and then, some more.

Also on the table is an extradition treaty that would give both countries a legal basis to send back criminals.

The ministry officials said the extradition pact was expected to be cleared by the Union Cabinet shortly. "We do hope both the treaties will be signed during the home minister's visit to Bangladesh," he said.

The extradition treaty would provide the legal basis for Dhaka to send jailed ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia.


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