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Pak, India to unveil relaxed visa regime

world Updated: Apr 18, 2012 03:44 IST
Zia Haq

India and Pakistan, once again seeking closer ties, would begin talks to unveil a easier travel and visa procedures and Indian home minister P. Chidambaram is likely to travel to Islamabad in May-end or June for the negotiations, Pakistan’s interior minister A. Rehman Malik told HT here Tuesday.

The Pakistan foreign ministry on Tuesday sent a formal invitation to Chidambaram with two sets of dates, May-end and June, the interior minister said, following up on Rehman’s informal invitation to the Indian home minister during Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari’s recent trip to Delhi.

Additional secretary in the Pakistan interior ministry, Shahid Hamid, said Pakistan was working on its proposals, which were almost ready.

While India has already loosened investment barriers against Pakistan as sought by Pakistani traders, there is a lot of demand for non-business visas from people whose roots lie strewn on either side of the border.

The Pak interior minister said some key changes Pakistan would seek include easier visas for those aged over 65 years, those seeking to attend marriages and funerals and for those traveling on business.

Malik said transforming Wagah into a 24-hour travel facility was among proposals Pakistan would bring to the table.

“Airports run 24/7. So why not Wagah?” Malik said.

Trade between the nuclear-armed neighbours is expected to expand substantially from its present $2.7bn a year following the opening of a new checkpost at the Wagah border crossing.