iconimg Friday, July 31, 2015

Aseem Bassi, Hindustan Times
Attari, January 14, 2013
The mounting tension between India and Pakistan after the killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani forces notwithstanding, the two nations are all set to script a new chapter in their relations on Tuesday by starting the on-arrival visa facility for senior citizens through the Attari-Wagah road route.

The decision to introduce on-arrival visas was taken by the home ministers of the two countries recently under the new visa regime.

An HT team visited the arrival terminal of the integrated check post (ICP) at the Attari border on Monday and found that all arrangements for the new visa facility were in place.

The authorities have set up a dedicated counter for on-arrival visas. They have also arranged a help desk and a counter where senior citizens coming from Pakistan can fill their application forms.

Talking to HT, Subhash Batra, public relations officer at the ICP, said, "The on-arrival visa facility will be inaugurated at 9.30 am, but we are yet to get a confirmation on who will inaugurate it. All arrangements have been completed."

The authorities have also displayed a list of the formalities senior citizens from Pakistan will have to complete to get on-arrival visas, including copies of national identity card, utility bill as proof of residence, passport, hotel booking if they are staying in a hotel or address of a relative or a friend in India where their stay is scheduled. The Pakistan nationals should be above the age of 65. The validity period of their passports should be more than six months.

After the visitors deposit their applications, their documents will be scrutinised. They will then have to submit a fee of Rs. 100 to avail the visas.

Under the on-arrival visa facility, Pakistan nationals can stay in India for 45 days at the most. This single-entry visa can be availed twice a year with a gap of 60 days.

Although under the new visa system Pakistan nationals will be allowed to visit five places of their choice, they will not be permitted to go to Punjab, J&K, Kerala and some other restricted places. "They will have to take special permission if they want to visit these places," said an official.

Senior citizens from Pakistan will have to go to Islamabad to get a visa for Punjab.

The authorities said similar arrangements were in place on the other side of the border. "When senior citizens from Pakistan return to their country, the immigration staff will allow them to leave after checking their passports," said an official.