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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

India may host Malik on his b’day next week

Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 04, 2012
First Published: 21:07 IST(4/12/2012) | Last Updated: 01:26 IST(5/12/2012)

Pakistan's interior minister Rehman Malik might celebrate his next birthday in the country, at Taj Mahal.

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Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Tuesday invited Malik to visit the country between 11-13 December to operationalise the new liberalised visa regime that would make it easier for people of the two countries to travel across the border for tourism and trade.

The country had in November postponed Malik's visit slated for 22 November, ostensibly since the lone surviving terrorist in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks Ajmal Kasab was to be hanged a day earlier.

New Delhi had then cited Shinde's pre-occupation with the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament as the official reason for its decision.

Parliament is in session till 20 December but that isn't going to come in the way any longer.

Neither will the anniversary of the December 13 attack on Parliament by Pak-backed terrorists in 1999 that the Indian Army eyeball-to-eyeball with the Pakistani Army.

Shinde recalled an earlier conversation with Malik where Pakistan's interior minister had mentioned his birthday on 12 December.

He had also mentioned that he wanted to travel to Agra to see the Taj.

"I think he would like to spend his birthday at Taj Mahal. So Government of India will make the arrangements," Shinde told reporters.

"Let us hope that he is coming with his family."

Shinde said the new Indo-Pak visa agreement - that replaces a 38-year-old restrictive visa agreement -- will be operationalised during this visit.

The new liberalised Indo-Pak visa pact replaces a 38-year-old restrictive visa agreement signed by the two countries in September. It eases curbs on issuing visas to traders, elderly people, tourists, pilgrims, members of civil society and children.

Under the new visa regime, Pakistani nationals can be allowed to travel to five cities instead of three. Also, senior citizens above 65 years and children below 12 years of age would be exempted from police reporting.


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