ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India agreed to ease the visa regime for bilateral visits as India’s Minister for External Affairs S. M. Krishna met with Pakistan’s Minister for Interior Rehman Malik in Islamabad, DawnNews reported on Saturday.
The two top government officials signed on the regime that would ease conditions and increase the number of cities for which visa would be granted on either side of the border. The agreement will also see an increase in the number of entry and exit points, as flights between Islamabad and New Delhi and ferry service between Karachi and Mumbai will be resumed.
According to the agreement, senior visitors (aged 65 years or above) would be granted a 45-day visa at the Wagah/Attari border. They would also not be required to report at police stations when they reach the other side of the border and a similar waiver has been granted to traders, business visitors and minors (aged 12 or under).
The duration of single-entry tourist visa, which was previously three months, has been extended to six months. However, tourists cannot stay for more than three months, following which, an additional request will be required for extension of stay. The number of destination cities on the this visa has been increased from three to five.
Tourist groups comprising 10 to 50 people can also acquire 30-day visas, however, such visas can only be obtained via government-approved tour operators. Students will also be able to seek the same group tourist visa for up to 30 days.
Business visitors would be able to acquire a multiple-entry visa of up to one year, which could allow them to visit between five to 10 cities, depending on their requirements.
Conditions for business visa have also been relaxed, whereby business visitors having a yearly income of at least Rs.500,000 or a turnover or Rs.3 million will be granted a multiple-entry visa for five cities.
Similarly, those aspiring business visitors with over Rs.5 million in yearly income or Rs.300 million in yearly turnover would be able to get a one-year multiple-entry visa for up to 10 cities.
According to the agreement, the procedure for seeking diplomatic visa has been eased and now diplomatic visas would be granted within 30 days from the date of application. Prior to this, no time limit was in place for granting diplomatic visa.
A diplomatic visa would only be granted on diplomatic passports and for specific periods and destinations.
Meanwhile, the duration for visas for government officials has been reduced from 30 to 15 days.
It has been decided that non-diplomatic visas would be granted within 45 days.
Visa for pilgrims
Pilgrims will be required to apply for a visa 45 days prior to their scheduled visit, following which, they will be granted a 15-day single-entry visa according to the protocol of 1974.
In addition, artists, who frequently cross the border, would be granted a multiple-entry visa.
The visa fee has also been increased from Pakistani 15 rupees and Indian 12 rupees to Rs.100 on either side.