Islamabad: India and Pakistan will on Saturday sign the much-awaited visa agreement that will ease the visa restrictions on people from both countries, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said.
Malik said that the visa pact would be signed Saturday by him and India’s External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan for talks.
“The biggest thing is that the visa agreement will be of benefit to the common people of both India and Pakistan. There is no loss for anyone in this,” Malik said.
The Pakistan minister said that with the new visa pact in place, the earlier problems of visa delays and rejections will end.
“If later we realise that certain things require a change, the arrangement can even by amended by both sides,” Malik said.
The visa agreement could be a game changer for people-to-people contact between the two neighbours as visa rules for specified categories could be eased by both sides.
Though India had said earlier that it was ready to sign the visa pact, Pakistan said it had to clear some formalities on its part.
The new visa policy will have eight categories.
“The types include diplomatic, non-diplomatic, 36 hour transit visit, tourist visas, civil society, media and business visas,” Pakistan daily The News reported on its website, quoting Pakistan foreign office sources at the end of the two-hour long meeting between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan here Friday.
“The tourist visa will be limited to five destinations and will be valid for a period of six months, while the diplomatic visa category will offer visas to the consular, the consular mission and their family members,” the daily said.
The two foreign secretaries, India’s Ranjan Mathai and Pakistan’s Jalil Abbas Jilani, met here Friday before the minister-level talks between Krishna and his Pakistan counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar Saturday.
Krishna arrived here Friday on a three-day visit to Pakistan. He will also visit Lahore Sunday before flying back home.