Pakistan, India agree to relax visa regime
08 September, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India on Friday discussed the new visa policy and decided on eight different categories for visas, with agreement on a liberalised visa issuance policy expected to be signed today (Thursday).
During its visit to the country from September 7 to 9, the Indian side will sign agreements on a liberalised visa regime and cultural exchanges. The visa categories include diplomatic, non-diplomatic, 36-hour transit visit, tourist, civil society, media and business.
During the two-hour meeting on Friday, the foreign secretaries of both countries reviewed and discussed restarting strategic dialogue between the two nations and discussed the issues of terrorism, water disputes, and Kashmir as well. The foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India held formal peace talks in the federal capital and finalised agenda for the minister-level talks today.
In Friday's meeting, the Indian delegation was led by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, and included Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal, External Affairs Ministry Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan) Yash Sinha and other senior officials.
The Pakistani delegation was led by Jalil Abbas Jilani, and included High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir.
While talking to reporters, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas said, "Talks were positive and very good. We had an overview of issues before the foreign-minister-level talks and now we will brief our ministers." The agenda of talks between the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India had also been decided in the secretary-level meeting, he added.
Before the talks on Friday, the foreign ministers of the two countries called for a new resolve for cooperation.
Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna, on his arrival to Pakistan, said, "I bring a message of goodwill from India to the people of Pakistan. I wish to reiterate the desire of India to see a stable and prosperous Pakistan living in peace."
He said that he had come to Pakistan with a mandate for building trust and confidence between the two countries. "I wish to reiterate the desire of India to see a stable Pakistan living in peace with itself and the world. That would be in the best interest of everyone," he said, adding that the leadership of both India and Pakistan desired to build trust and confidence between the two countries. Krishna said, "We are committed to finding solutions of all issues that have beset our relationship, through peaceful bilateral dialogue."
He said, "We look to the future where our two countries are able to live together in an atmosphere of friendliness and all-round cooperation free from terror and violence."
Bilateral meetings between the foreign offices of both neighbours will continue until September 9 and it is expected that both countries will focus on confidence-building measures, trade and people-to-people exchanges.
After arriving in the Pakistan on Friday, Krishna stressed the need for both countries to find solutions to all issues that had weighed down Pakistan-India relationship, through bilateral dialogue.
The foreign ministers of both countries will also co-chair a joint commission meeting today. The Indian foreign minister will also meet President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.