India and Pakistan today announced the operationalisation of a new visa agreement between the two countries under which both countries will follow a liberalised visa regime for business travelers, the aged and tourists.
India's home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Pakistan interior minister A Rehman Malik jointly operationalised the new visa agreement between India and Pakistan in New Delhi today.
However, the visa-on-arrival will come into effect from 15 January 2013 and the group tourist visa from 15 March 2013.
The home ministry also issued a circular to this effect to all the Indian missions, state governments and union territories, foreigners regional registration officers (FRROs), FROs and all concerned.
The two countries had on 8 September 2012 signed a new visa agreement to facilitate travel for the nationals of both countries desirous of traveling to the other country and to promote people to people contact.
Key features of the new Visa Agreement are:
- Places of visit allowable increased from three to five places.
- Provision for visitor visa for up to two years in exceptional cases:
a) Persons above 65 years of age;
b) National of one country married to national of the other country; and
c) Children below 12 years accompanying parents in (b) above.
Visa-on-arrival can be granted at Attari/Wagah check-post to persons more than 65 years of age for 45 days with single entry (effective from 15 January 2013).
Exemption from police reporting for business visa granted to businessmen with an annual income above Pak Rs50 lakh or equivalent or annual turnover above Pak Rs3 crore or equivalent.
Group Tourist Visa
- Group Tourist Visa for 30 days may be issued for travel in groups, with not less than 10 members and not more than 50 members in each group, organised by approved tour operators/travel agents (effective from 15 March 2013).
Entry and exit
- Entry and exit from different designated Immigration Check Posts may be allowed, if indicated in application.
- However, exit from Wagha/Attari on foot cannot be accepted unless the entry was also on foot via Attari/Wagah.
Speaking on the occasion, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the new visa agreement would facilitate easy movement of people across the two countries.
Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik said he has come to India with a message of peace and assured that Pakistan government will take all possible steps to work together with India for moving forward for the sake of future generations.
Officials delegations of India and Pakistan, meanwhile, are also holding a bilateral meeting on issues that include counter terrorism border management, counterfeit Indian currency notes and cooperation among security and investigation agencies.
The official delegation accompanying the Pakistan interior minister includes members from the ministry of interior, ministry of foreign affairs, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), federal administration and high commission of Pakistan in India.