India Pakistan liberalise visa regime to ease travel between the two countries

India News Bulletin Desk

India and Pakistan have both taken several measures to improve bilateral relations. The Foreign Affairs ministers of both countries have liberalised visa rules to ease travel between the two countries, signed an MoU for cultural exchanges, and reactivated the Pakistan-India Joint Commission to boost trade.

India and Pakistan sign new visa deal to ease travel. India's External Affairs Minister SM Krishna with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar
Image: MEA photo gallery Flickr

The series of measures to improve India-Pakistan relations comes after a meeting between SM Krishna, India’s Minister of External Affairs and Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs n Islamabad, Pakistan on September 8, 2012.

The ministers signed a new visa agreement and introduced steps to ease travel of business persons, tourists, pilgrims, elderly and children, between Pakistan and India. 

As per the visa agreement between India and Pakistan:

  • Cross-LoC (Line of Control) travel would be expanded on both sides of LoC to include visits for tourism and religious pilgrimage;
  • Tourists between the two countries will see speedy clearance of applications for travel across LoC. The process time should not be more than 45 days;
  • Both sides will extend necessary assistance to valid entry permit holders to cross the LoC in emergency situation on crossing as well as non-crossing days. This will be facilitated by designated authorities. 

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan's measures to boost trade relations included:

  • Facilitating the exchange of business delegations;
  • Upgrading the transportation links on operational crossing points;
  • Improving roads and bridges for Cross-LoC trade;
  • Resolving operational issues concerning Cross-LoC trade through regular meetings.

India and Pakistan delegates also agreed to the need for promoting friendly exchanges between the two countries. They also discussed measures for promoting cooperation in various fields including facilitating visits to religious shrines, media exchanges, holding of sports tournaments and cessation of hostile propaganda against each other. 

They also welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of culture between the Pakistan National Council of the Arts and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations

The two countries acknowledged the importance of having a strong and enhanced economic partnership. They reactivated the Pakistan-India Joint Commission and promoted co-operation in areas of agriculture, education, environment, health, information and broadcasting, information technology and telecommunication, science and technology and tourism.

India and Pakistan’s relation soured in 2008 following the November 2008 Mumbai bomb blasts involving Pakistani militants such as Ajmal Kasab. Bilateral trade relations was restricted, cricket ties was discontinued and peace talks didn’t yield results after the 2008 attacks.

However, since late 2011, both countries have revived their efforts to improve bilateral relations.

The new visa deal follows India’s decision in July 2012 to resume cricketing ties with Pakistan. Earlier in the same month, India and Pakistan renewed peace talks to ease the on-going tension between the two countries.

The two countries however are still far off from finding a peaceful solution to resolve the issues in Jammu and Kashmir, the two ministers agreed to the need for continued discussions on the topic. 

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