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India, Pakistan to discuss relaxed visa regime

April 26, 2011 21:40 IST

Pakistan has proposed to India two sets of datesĀ -- in the last week of May and first week of June -- for holding a meeting of the Joint Working Group to carry forward the process of introducing a relaxed visa regime.

A communication from Pakistan, proposing the two sets of dates, was received last week and a decision will be taken by the government soon.

"We are examining which dates will be feasible for us to hold the meeting. We will take a decision on it soon and accordingly convey it to Pakistan," an official said.

During the India-Pakistan home secretary-level talks in March, both sides agreed to set up a Joint Working Group to examine the modalities for streamlining the visa procedure/modalities and giving a final shape to the revision of the Bilateral Visa Agreement.

"The next meeting will carry forward the whole process," the official said.

India is "positive" about liberalising the visa regime with Pakistan to facilitate greater people-to-people contacts between the two nations.

During the talks, a proposal had been put forth to relax norms for issuance of visa to journalists, businessmen, senior citizens and patients travelling for medical treatment.

Under the proposal, the visa issued for journalists, businessmen, senior citizens or patients travelling for treatment will not be city specific and visa holders would be allowed to travel across the country, they said.

The Indian side had proposed to relax norms for people who have a valid visa and want to travel again within the span of two years by removing time-consuming security background check processes, which are conducted from Delhi.

The Indian High Commission in Pakistan will be empowered to issue necessary permissions to such travellers, they said.

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