The home secretaries of India and Pakistan will hold bilateral talks on May 24 and 25 in Islamabad during which a liberalised visa regime for the two countries is expected to be approved apart from New Delhi pressing for action against perpetrators of 26/11 attack.
During the parleys, which were being held after a delay of five months, a decision on issuance of multiple-entry and reporting-free visas for businessmen, allowing them to visit five cities instead of three as at present, is expected to be taken, a home ministry official said on Monday.
An agreement to liberalise the visa procedures will benefit people of both the countries as it will also exempt elderly people from police reporting, allowing common people from either country to visit three earmarked cities instead of one. The Union Cabinet had given its nod for signing the pact on April 25.
Home minister P Chidambaram had said last week that he hoped that the pact to have a liberalised visa regime will be signed during the talks besides taking forward Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).
"I think the liberalised visa regime can be signed if the Pakistani side is ready. Our Cabinet has approved it. Then we can talk about trade-related matters, we can talk about CBMs along the LoC...a number of issues. I am optimistic," Chidambaram had said about the meeting.
The Indian delegation, led by Union home secretary RK Singh, will also press for action from Pakistan to bring the Mumbai terror attack perpetrators, including JuD chief Hafiz Saeed to justice, and speedy trial in a Pakistani court of seven 26/11 accused like Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.
This will be the first meeting between home secretary Singh and his Pakistani counterpart K Siddique Akbar. Their predecessors Gopal K Pillai and Qamar Zaman Chaudhary had met in March last year in New Delhi.
The bilateral meeting will be held amid renewed engagements between India and Pakistan. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had hosted a lunch for Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on April 8 when he was in India on a private visit.
Last month, Singh had met his Pakistani counterpart Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.
Foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai had said when the Prime Minister had taken up with Zardari the issue of action against 26/11 perpetrators and activities of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan president had suggested that further discussion on Saeed was required and, since the Home Secretaries of the two countries would be meeting, the issue could be taken up at that time.
The home secretary level talks were scheduled to be held in December last year but were postponed due to domestic political situation in Pakistan.
Later, Pakistan had suggested April 16 as the possible date for the dialogue but the date clashed with a crucial meeting of the chief ministers hosted by the Home Ministry.
Subsequently, New Delhi sought a fresh date for the meeting after May 22 when the Budget Session of Parliament ends.