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India, Pak set to liberalise visa policy

Designed to allow unrestricted travel, the policy allows for seven-day open visas for businesspersons and tourists.

india Updated: Dec 18, 2006 14:18 IST

Pakistan and India are set to liberalise their visa policy fromJanuary, doing away with the current city-specific flow of people.

Designed to allow unrestricted travel anywhere, the policy allows for seven-day open visas for businesspersons and tourists. The principal understanding on visas between the two South Asian neighbours was reached during the foreign secretary talks in New Delhiin November.

A formal agreement was likely to be signed on January 13 when the foreign ministers of the two countries hold talks in Islamabad to review the third round of the composite dialogue process.

Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said visa liberalisation was part of a tourism agreement that would be inked by Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri and his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee.

A senior interior ministry official was quoted as saying that Pakistan and India had agreed to increase the number of visa counters from the existing two to three, and plan to issue over 1,000 visas daily to businesspersons and tourists.

"Under the new policy, citizens and businessmen of both countries would get a seven-day open visa with no restrictions on visiting a particular city or place. They would be allowed to move anywhere," the official said.

According to the proposed agreement, tourists would also be offered a 15-day visa if they visit in the form of delegations or groups. "Earlier, Indian and Pakistani tourists were not given visas in groups," the official pointed out.

India is to open a new visa counter in Lahore while Pakistan will set up another visa counter in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

Currently, the two countries issue visas only from Mumbai, New Delhi, Karachi and Islamabad.

First Published: Dec 18, 2006 14:18 IST