Days after Home Minister P Chidambaram talked about the possibility of snapping business and tourism ties with Pakistan, the chill in bilateral relationship in the aftermath of Mumbai terror attacks has already begun to tell on cross-border travel.
The numbers of applications and visas issued by the mission had come down by a third after the November 26 attacks, a Pakistan High Commission official, who didn’t want to be named, told HT.
Earlier, on an average, over 400 visas were issued everyday and the numbers climbed to 500 around religious occasions. “The number has now gone down to 100-120 visas a day,” he said.
Chidambaram had recently warned that Pakistan’s failure to crack down on terror could affect relations between the two sides.
The advisory issued by the government asking Indians no to travel to Pakistan, too, had brought down the numbers of travellers, the official said. The advisory was issued after some Indians were reportedly arrested in Pakistan on charges of terrorism after the Mumbai strikes.
Both the countries do not permit tourists, but had recently allowed group tourism to liberalise visa regime. India doesn’t figure in the List-A of 175 countries whose nationals are issued a tourist visa for Pakistan.
Every year a large number of Sikh pilgrims visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib, Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Rorri Sahib, and Kartarpur in Pakistan. This number, too, had fallen since the 26/11 attacks, the official said.
The trade, so far, was normal, he said. It’s worth around $2 billion (approximately Rs 1,000 crore). It was $235.74 million in 2001 and grew to over $1 billion in 2006-07, according to Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.
Exports from India to Pakistan grew at 60 per cent and imports at 64 per cent during 2002-07, with the balance of trade being in favour of India. Before 26/11, the two sides had set a target of $10 billion trade by 2010.