In a bid to improve trade and economic relations with Pakistan, the Cabinet on Thursday gave its nod to a proposal to ease the visa norms between the two nations. The clearance, however, came for only certain categories, including for businessmen and the elderly.
?It is understood that the approval is extended for common people to visit three earmarked cities. Businessmen with multi-entry, non-police reporting visas can visit five cities instead of three as at present, but these businessmen need to be certified by industry chambers, Ficci and Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI),? said a senior government official.
He added that elderly people would be exempt from police reporting.
The proposed agreement is now expected to surface in the talks between home secretary from India and secretary, interior ministry, Pakistan, scheduled in May in Islamabad.
The visa regime can be operational only after it is cleared by the Pakistan’s cabinet as well.
Talking to FE, Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo of Al-riaz Agencies and the former president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: ?This is a very good news as it was required to allow trade and businesses to grow across the borders. There is a huge opportunity in both the countries and such steps will further strengthen the economic relations.?
Ficci’s deputy secretary general & international head, Ambika Sharma, also said that ?Ficci has been advocating this for a long time and this decision by the Indian government is bound to have concomitant impact on confidence building measures currently under way by the establishments of both the countries. Enhanced people-to people contact would naturally translate into fast-pacing of our business relations in the coming times and meet the envisaged trade target set to treble the next three years?.
The two countries had decided to ease visa regulations during the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari here on April 8. The agreement is expected to give boost to the bilateral trade, which is low at $2.7 billion at present.