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Visa pact: India, Pak look at middle path

delhi Updated: Jul 13, 2012 01:25 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times
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India and Pakistan are now looking at a middle ground of political symbolism to ink the long-pending new visa regime. The decision had to be postponed at Islamabad's insistence during the home secretary level talks between the two countries last May.

Reason: Pakistan interior minister Rahman Malik wanted to finalise it at the "political level."

Now, New Delhi has proposed that the pact be inked at a special session during the foreign minister level talks between the two countries in September where Malik will also be present.

Pakistan has been looking at a home minister-level meeting which would give an "ideal backdrop" for signing of the visa pact, Indian officials said.

But sources said home minister level talks between the two countries would not be happening anytime soon.

"The ministers are not the signatories. So the next big opportunity for signing the pact is when external affairs minister is travelling to Islamabad to review the dialogue process with Pakistan counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar," said an official. Foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai had said in May that India had gone to the home secretary-level talks fully prepared to sign the new visa regime in accordance with the decision taken during April's meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"But we also have reports that the Pakistani referred to some delay in its procedure and the Pakistani interior minister's desire for political participation in signing of the pact, he had said.