Dawn News

Pakistan, India ease visa regime

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik (L) and India's Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna (R) sign on the new visa regime for both countries. – Photo by Online
Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik (L) and India's Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna (R) sign on the new visa regime for both countries. – Photo by Online

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India agreed to ease the visa regime for bilateral visits as India’s Minister for External Affairs S. M. Krishna met with Pakistan’s Minister for Interior Rehman Malik in Islamabad, DawnNews reported on Saturday.

The two top government officials signed on the regime that would ease conditions and increase the number of cities for which visa would be granted on either side of the border. The agreement will also see an increase in the number of entry and exit points, as flights between Islamabad and New Delhi and ferry service between Karachi and Mumbai will be resumed.

According to the agreement, senior visitors (aged 65 years or above) would be granted a 45-day visa at the Wagah/Attari border. They would also not be required to report at police stations when they reach the other side of the border and a similar waiver has been granted to traders, business visitors and minors (aged 12 or under).

Tourist visas

The duration of single-entry tourist visa, which was previously three months, has been extended to six months. However, tourists cannot stay for more than three months, following which, an additional request will be required for extension of stay. The number of destination cities on the this visa has been increased from three to five.

Tourist groups comprising 10 to 50 people can also acquire 30-day visas, however, such visas can only be obtained via government-approved tour operators. Students will also be able to seek the same group tourist visa for up to 30 days.

Business visa

Business visitors would be able to acquire a multiple-entry visa of up to one year, which could allow them to visit between five to 10 cities, depending on their requirements.

Conditions for business visa have also been relaxed, whereby business visitors having a yearly income of at least Rs.500,000 or a turnover or Rs.3 million will be granted a multiple-entry visa for five cities.

Similarly, those aspiring business visitors with over Rs.5 million in yearly income or Rs.300 million in yearly turnover would be able to get a one-year multiple-entry visa for up to 10 cities.

Diplomatic visa

According to the agreement, the procedure for seeking diplomatic visa has been eased and now diplomatic visas would be granted within 30 days from the date of application. Prior to this, no time limit was in place for granting diplomatic visa.

A diplomatic visa would only be granted on diplomatic passports and for specific periods and destinations.

Meanwhile, the duration for visas for government officials has been reduced from 30 to 15 days.

It has been decided that non-diplomatic visas would be granted within 45 days.

Visa for pilgrims

Pilgrims will be required to apply for a visa 45 days prior to their scheduled visit, following which, they will be granted a 15-day single-entry visa according to the protocol of 1974.

In addition, artists, who frequently cross the border, would be granted a multiple-entry visa.

Fee hike

The visa fee has also been increased from Pakistani 15 rupees and Indian 12 rupees to Rs.100 on either side.

Email news tips and feedback to News Desk, submit blogs to Blog Desk and share photos and Videos with Special Projects Desk.

Comments (33) Closed

Sep 08, 2012 02:44pm
Good Start, however....there should be no visa requirement! Citizens of both counties should be able to travel back and forth on passports only.
m k ghauri
Sep 08, 2012 03:24pm
thank god that two countries are moving for better relations and nationals from both countries will be able to visit each others, countries at ease .time has come that past be forgotten and a fresh beginning be made for better future of both the countries.Money spent on weapons be spent for human development.
Sep 08, 2012 11:14pm
Good initiative.These two countries must have visa free entry for everybody as in case of Australia-NZ or GCC countries.
K. I. Raja
Sep 09, 2012 07:47am
Are these visa relaxations also applicable for Overseas Pakistanis holding dual nationality of First World Countries? Indian Consulates abroad do not unnecessarily delay granting visa to overseas Pakistanis even if requested for 15 days. In most cases, the applicant has to cancel the flight and pay penalty to airline or his/her leave is expired.
Gary Sahi
Sep 08, 2012 04:08pm
Congratulations to both Indians and Pakistanis in their endeavour to become humans rather than Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians or any other man made divide.
Sep 08, 2012 04:00pm
Why Minister for Interior, Mr. Rehman Malik, to sign the agreement with the India
Bash Ali
Sep 09, 2012 05:05pm
I am delighted and can't hide and control my happiness. It is a giant step in the right direction. Let's be ware that some extremists particularly on the Pakistan side could spoil the fun in flat no time. Just in case something weird does happen, I hope and wish that the leadership of both countries will demonstrate wisdom and not let these fanatics have a field day. Congratulations to the political leadership of both nations and long hard work of government functionaries and civil society groups, behing the scene, to make it happen. Keep up the good work. It is the start and we have a long road to travel and I sure hope a bit faster now!
Sep 09, 2012 10:45pm
Visa regime falls into hands of Minister for Interior. India was represented by Foreign Minister since he has the job out of India. Mr. Krishna will pass on agreement to Home Minister to follow. If Ms. Hina Khar had gone to India she would sign with Home Minister in India. This is just the protocol that has to be followed.Nothing wrong.
Sep 09, 2012 12:58am
It's great step forward towards normalizing people to people contacts and business relationships. It will help both countries tremendously. It is hoped that the special interest groups (Pakistan Army for one) or Mullah's or similar groups in India do not derail this process and progress.
Sep 08, 2012 04:02pm
Couple of clarifications needed. 1) what if wife is below 65 years and accompanying husband 65 and above, will she also be allowed visa on arrival ? 2) Is it correct that seniors would only be allowed thru wagha/Attari borders only,. Not thru other entry ponits ? Clarifications are welcome.
no name
Sep 09, 2012 09:52am
it's very bad news for pakistani muslims
Noor Chaudhry from Canada
Sep 08, 2012 02:34pm
This sounds great for the people of both neighbours in the future. Especially for the seniors, minors & traders. Question: what about the people with duel citizenship living abroad in other countries? There is no mention about them. Noor Chaudhry from Canada
Sep 08, 2012 02:38pm
Lets hope this is the start of something good
Sep 09, 2012 10:34am
wonderful news
Sep 08, 2012 02:44pm
Good Gesture by India and good job by both parties. should help in ease the tension and problems, particularly for Pakistan.
Sep 08, 2012 02:44pm
Finally I can hope to visit my place of birth-Rawalpindi.
Sep 08, 2012 02:54pm
great news for ppl of both sides
Sep 08, 2012 07:48pm
Slow buut sure......Keep going.
Sep 09, 2012 07:03pm
Everyone is pld to hear this pc of news.However, in case of death of a near relative,will the visa be given on the counter or the concerned will have to wait for 45 days?
mir aftab
Sep 08, 2012 12:28pm
People from India and Pakistan should celebrate this day as a freedom from borders day as this is the day when the borders have started melting.
Sep 09, 2012 08:47pm
Ab Dehli duuur nahi :) congrats to both sides...i hope it stays.
Sep 08, 2012 08:00pm
This is great. The two great nations now will be able to visit one another and their brothers and sisters. This is a historical victory for the sub continent.
Sep 09, 2012 12:01am
My dream has come true. Long live the peace process. Although I am now a US citizen but to me it looks like I will be able to visit Hyderabad Sindh in a free and happy atmosphere now. Finally sense has prevailed and my congratulations to leaders on both sides. Step in the right direction.
mir aftab
Sep 09, 2012 12:29pm
It is the resolve of the sane elements from both side of the divide that will keep this rocking boat floating in spite of the machinations of extremist elements that tend to divide for the sake of perpetuating their rule.
Sep 09, 2012 08:28am
gr8 new !
Sep 08, 2012 06:33pm
Such an agreement can be seen as a +ive sign and way forward in reducing the hostility between the 2 nations. However, India and Pakistan must be act cautiously while moving forward, all this progress is one step away from destruction by a 26/11 type attack. Pakistan must ensure that there would be no cross border terrorism, and bring to justice the 26/11 perpetrators. Such actions would make it difficult for any such groups planning such coward and disruptive activities. India should implement proper immigration and investment procedures so that it need point every little sneeze towards Pakistan.
brighton rodeo
Sep 09, 2012 08:52pm
It is very good sign of hope that Pakistan and India will start understanding and inter acting naturally. The visa does not speak of the people born in Pakistan and India has now acquired nationality of American or other country. I shall appreciate the clarification for Pakistanis and Indians who are living abroad rather their country of birth.
Sep 09, 2012 08:39pm
My neighbor here in the US is a elderly Hindu man who originally came from Peshawar, although he migrated to India, and then the the US (Still an Indian citizen). We often chat about how I will take him to his ancestral home and guide him around. We always assumed such chats were flights of fancy, but now I am thrilled I can actually show him his hometown! I hope this agreement is implemented quickly so that we can go in March 2013. If India and Pakistan want peace, they must make borders irrelevant. Indians must know Pakistanis do no harbor hatred in their hearts, and that the extreme minority does not speak for the majority that have been all but silenced. And hopefully we Pakistanis will discover that the constant, and tiresome, anti-Pakistan vitriol emanating from India isn't representative of the Indian masses.
Sep 09, 2012 03:23pm
Bold step by India and Pakistan! I hope the terrorists give peace a chance!
U Gupta
Sep 08, 2012 01:42pm
My dream of visiting Lahore is still far away. I thought they will grant visa at border to 60 yrs old. I hope Hindus are allowed to visit.
Mohd Raza
Sep 10, 2012 03:41am
A real good news, as youth of both the countries are tryiong to leave the differences behind.
Sep 10, 2012 04:00am
Good news in the last 63 years. One can now easily exchange the identical culture of the people of both side. My wish to visit Lahore and and other historical places in PK will be full filled.
Sep 10, 2012 04:12am
Agreements in the past have only existed on paper, visa offices on both sides try to find excuses not to grant a visa or delay issuing one. We hope there will be a realstic change in attitude and sincerity of purpose