New Delhi not sure about Pakistan-India visa regime
03 September, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Despite repeating assurances by the Pakistani side, Indian officials are still in doubts as whether or not Islamabad would be ready to sign visa regime.
Now when Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna's visit to Pakistan is due this week, diplomatic sources expressed their doubts whether Pakistan would really sign the visa agreement with India or not.
Indian official sources said the last time a draft and an agreement in this connection was ready but objection from some Pakistani officials in the Interior Ministry delayed signature on it.
Pakistani Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani has said that the visa agreement between the two countries is to be signed soon.
On Friday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said in Tehran that Pakistan had finalised work on the visa regime and hoped it would be signed during the visit of Krishna.
Sources in the Foreign Office also said that the two countries had went ahead as compared to the past and hoped that now it was a time that solution towards all outstanding issues would take place "though not so early".
"Pakistan has given MFN status to India and New Delhi also responded by taking certain steps... now the visa regime between the two countries is not far away," sources said. They said that the Indian external affairs minister is visiting Islamabad to have a review meeting with his Pakistani counterpart on eight important issues, including Kashmir, Siachen, trade, visa agreement. He would meet Pakistani officials and business community as well, they added.
After the review meeting, a roadmap for the next round of talks between the two countries will be agreed.
"General topics and the level of talks would be decided for further negotiations," sources said.
Other sources said that Krishna would spend the last day of his visit in Lahore where he would meet officials and the business community.
Pakistan and India had started composite dialogue over all issues but soon after the process was kicked off, terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 killed scores of people. After that, the composite dialogue was stopped. It was resumed last year after lot of efforts and covert international persuasion.
Observers maintain that this time the dialogue between the regional nuclear powers is going on in positive direction, though there are some difficulties on issues such as liberalised visa regime and demilitarisation of Siachen.