01 May 2012
Hope for Pakistani and India visa agreement
A bilateral agreement between Indian and Pakistan which will grant an Indian visa to Pakistani businessmen, and vice versa, looks set to be finalised this month, easing tension between the two countries.
Pakistani businessmen can currently obtain an Indian visa and Indian businessmen a Pakistani equivalent, which will allow them to enter the country for business purposes and visit a maximum of three cities while reporting their activities to local police.
However, under the new agreement, certified businessmen from either country will be able to gain multiple entry visas that last for a year and permit visits to five cities without having to report to local police forces. Businessmen's credentials must be verified by both states before becoming certified.
The agreement is a significant sign of easing tensions between the two countries which have traditionally maintained an air of hostility towards each other, particularly along the border between the two countries, known as the Line of Control (LoC). However, the two nations appear willing to co-operate on the matter in order to boost trade and international relations.
"I think the liberalised visa regime can be signed if the Pakistani side is ready," said Home Minister P Chidambaram.
"Our cabinet has approved it. Then, we can talk about trade-related matters, we can talk about confidence building measures (CBM) along the LoC, there are a number of issues but I am optimistic."
Islamabad has signalled their favour toward the agreement by offering to host the meeting between the two nations sometime before the end of May.
The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in Indian immigration services.