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India cut visas to Pakistan drastically this year

21 December, 2017

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NEW DELHI: India said on Wednesday it cut visas to Pakistan drastically this year, issuing 18,000 fewer visas than in 2016, while Pakistan’s mission said it issued at least 6,000 more visas than before.

The Hindu quoted Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju as telling parliament on Tuesday that 34,445 visas for Pakistanis were issued in 2017, against 52,525 in 2016.

The reduced figures came despite several exceptional medical visas granted by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj after requests made to her on twitter.

The Pakistan High Commission officials told The Hindu that 45,519 Indians were issued visas by Pakistan till November this year, including 17,844 issued to Hindu, Sikh and Bohra pilgrims, and 573 business visas as compared to 39,321 in 2016.

There was, however, a surge in the number of Indian visas for Bangladeshis. As many as 1.28 million visas were given to Bangladeshis this year in comparison to 0.93m visas issued in 2016, Mr Rijiju said in reply to a written question.

The last time such a low number of visas were issued was in 2011 when 48,640 visas for Pakistanis were issued. In 2014 and 2015, India granted 172,536 visas to Pakistanis. The numbers in 2012-13 when the United Progressive Alliance was in power stood at 132,590.

An official explained there was a difference in number of visas issued and those who actually visited the country, as some postponed their visit or did not visit at all, The Hindu said.

The home ministry’s annual report said that 104,720 Pakistanis visited India in 2016. It said the decline came despite an agreement in 2012, when India and Pakistan had sealed a new visa agreement to promote people-to-people contacts. However, in August 2016, the ministry had put in place an electronic visa clearance process for Pakistani citizens.

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