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Relax visa restrictions between India, Pak: Mukherjee

Source: PTI
December 28, 2010 17:47 IST
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Favouring free flow of information between India and Pakistan, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said some progress has been made about visa restrictions but still there are hindrances which can be addressed.

"There should be a free flow of information. Naturally, when I am suggesting that there should be free flow of information sometimes the visa restrictions, which are applicable to even journalists, could be eased," Mukherjee said during a discussion at the 10th anniversary celebrations of the South Asia Free Media Association in New Delhi.

"I think we took some decisions about relaxation of visas and some progress has been made. But still there are some hindrances which can be addressed," he said.

Earlier speaking at the same forum, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha also favoured relaxation of the visa regime.

Rajya Sabha member of Parliament Mani Shankar Aiyar said, "Ajmal Kasab did not get a visa to come to Pakistan. Why are you making it difficult for people to come and meet their families?" Asked about his opinion on the visit of Parliament delegations from both the countries, he said, "This is a question of Parliament. Parliamentary delegations are not handled by the government but by the Speakers."

Mukherjee also said that he would welcome if talks between such delegations are kept away from the media glare initially. "I would also welcome the suggestion that if the exchange of parliamentarians is aimed to have some positive impact in the initial stage I would like to avoid interaction with the media so that they can make some positive contribution to influence the decision makers," he said.

The finance minister said the signing of the South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation agreement on trade at the 16th SAARC summit in April should strengthen economic cooperation by expanding intra-regional investments and production opportunities. "I hope the ratification of these agreements by other countries would help realise the full potential of services," he added.

Mukherjee said inter-regional cooperation has strengthened physical connectivity and has helped overcome the global economic and food crisis.

"We can take satisfaction from the fact that SAARC has emerged as the service provider for the economic and development needs of the people of the region. People to people activity should continue," he added.
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