On talks table: visa for seniors on arrival
In a first, India has agreed to a visa-on-arrival facility for senior citizens arriving at the Attari border from Pakistan as part of a liberalised visa regime that will push trade links and reunite families divided by a fenced border and a restrictive visa policy.delhi Updated: Apr 10, 2012 22:59 IST
In a first, India has agreed to a visa-on-arrival facility for senior citizens arriving at the Attari border from Pakistan as part of a liberalised visa regime that will push trade links and reunite families divided by a fenced border and a restrictive visa policy.
The new visa agreement would kick in after home secretary RK Singh and Interior Secretary K Siddique Akbar sign on the dotted line at their next meeting expected in end-May or early June.
The two sides have agreed to seal the agreement at this meeting rather than reopen negotiations as demanded by the business community in Pakistan who felt the changes were too little, too late.
The proposed pact not only relaxes rules for businessmen with a proven record to a one-year multiple entry visa to travel in 10 cities but could also brings hope for people such as Rizwana Suriya, who migrated from Pune after her marriage to a Pakistani national.
Suriya had written an emotional open letter to President Asif Ali Zardari ahead of his visit — published in a Pakistani newspaper last week — recounting how she had been unable to visit Pune to meet her parents before they died due to the restrictive visa policies.
Along with people such as Suriya, senior citizens and minors —less than 12 years —can be granted multiple entry visas with a two-year validity.
Senior citizens will also be eligible for a 45-day visa on arrival at the Attari/Wagah border.
The liberalised regime has been in the works for over four years and was due to be finalised around the 26/11 attacks, which left a deep scar on relations between the two countries.
First Published: Apr 10, 2012 22:58 IST