THE much-awaited changes in the visa policy signed by the representatives of Pakistan and India are more advantageous to businessmen than to the common people. The only two advantages the lesser mortals will have is that they will be able to visit five cities instead of three on each trip and they will have the option of entering and exiting from different places.

As for senior citizens, they will hardly have any advantage apart from being exempted from police reporting. They will get visa on arrival only if they take the rigorous land route and cross the border at the Wagah-Attari checkposts on foot. But those taking flights to Delhi or Mumbai will have to go through the visa rigmaroles as in the past.

The much publicised concessions of visa being issued on arrival for senior citizens provided they cross the border on foot doesn’t mean much. If a 65-plus person has to go from Karachi or Hyderabad to Delhi he (or she) will have to take a train or a flight to Lahore, take a taxi for Wagah, cross the border on foot, hire a taxi for Amritsar and then board a train or a flight, subject to the availability of seats, to New Delhi. The return journey will be just as cumbersome. Those travelling by air or train will have to apply for visa in much the same old way.

It is also time Pakistan allowed India to reopen its consulate in Karachi. If India is unable to provide accommodation to the Pakistan government to open a visa office in Mumbai, the next best option would be Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh).

Finally, one is baffled why our High Commission in New Delhi is not authorised to accept visa applications couriered from visa-seekers in different parts of the huge country. Poor visa applicants (or their representatives) have to submit their applications in person at the counter in the High Commission and get their passports, with or without stamped visa, back in person.

The Indian High Commission, on the other hand, accepts visa applications if sent by one of the two designated courier services in Pakistan.

ASIF NOORANI                  Karachi

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Comments (21)

Murtuza Babrawala
September 17, 2012 6:16 pm
Because they are Europeans and most of them are White and sensible. We are Desi , we cannot forget our past and we have no sense of community and with this senseless bitterness we are also showing that we are lesser humans.
masroor durrani
September 18, 2012 6:23 pm
your comments are of a unrealistic. you are living in a global village
September 19, 2012 12:16 am
Now if your idea of Vacation is ''will I come back'' adventure type..Fine. Indians by nature are NOT so daring and adventurous. I will have difficulties to appreciate the beauty of the hunza valley or makran fearing for my life in a country where its own citizens (based on religion and sect) life is at peril.
September 19, 2012 12:36 am
happy days...
Khurram Saleem
September 17, 2012 11:45 am
If Europeans can forget the hundreds of years of fighting and hate and open their borders to become a community rather than an individual nation, why can't we?
September 19, 2012 12:31 am
Dear Sir, How about applying the same law and obtain some tangible results within your national sphere...Should be easier I think. If it works we can think of siphoning your expertise.
September 19, 2012 12:35 am
Mr Shaf, We have our laws and its applicable to all citizens from countries that allows dual citizenship. The US state dept. has no role to play.
Imran Ahsan Mirza
September 17, 2012 3:19 am
There should be open borders and no visas.
masroor durrani
September 17, 2012 4:42 am
I and my family are Pakistani Americans and have visited India before coming to USA. We applied for Visa visiting India on the sad demise of aunt who was my mother-in law. We were denied visa and advised to apply from Pakistan on Pakistani Passport. How come. I did not see any facility for the persons of my category. I emailed the Honorable Foreign Minister of India Mr Krishna inviting his attention on this issue. I am hopeful of an explanation from concerned quarters. Masroor Durrani USA
September 17, 2012 2:47 pm
So you want to have the cake and eat it too! Why did you guys demand a separate Pakistan, if you don't want visas and open borders? Before partition, it was one country with no borders!
September 17, 2012 3:52 pm
Unfortunately there was a gentleman called David Headley who was someone whose situation was not too different from yours. You cannot blame India for protecting itself.
September 17, 2012 4:08 pm
pakis should not be allowed to visit india at all. all relations should be put on hold and the border sealed for say 30 years. Hopefully in this time pakistan will become a more saner place and join the comity of nations.
September 17, 2012 4:15 pm
The reply is David Coleman Headly incident?????He was also a Pakistani American............MEA is more sensitive towards overseas Pakistanis
Shaf H
September 17, 2012 5:04 pm
Masroor, as you are aware. India has a strange policy that Americans (and other dual-citizens with Pakistan) have to apply on their Pakistani passport. The only way to apply on one's American passport is to renounce their Pakistani citizenship. Merely not renewing their Pakistani passport does not end one's Pakistani citizenship. Only renouncing it at a Consulate achieves this. The US State Department is aware of this discrimination against dual-citizens (Paksitan and US) and has stated that it is helpless to influence India's visa policy as it is India's internal matter.
September 18, 2012 12:49 am
I never see the same eagerness from Indian citizens to visit Pakistan. Ahh!! Our beloved Congress and its appeasement policy...
September 17, 2012 1:46 pm
very well said Khurram.. I wish we have more ppl like you on earth..
September 17, 2012 10:00 am
Among South Asian countries, it is Sri Lanka that has taken the initiative - from the beginning of this year, it is a complete on-line visa process, and the electronic paper visa ( similar to the UAE visa ) comes through either same or the next day. Only by putting such a visa regime in place will the countries in South Asia be able to cope with the huge volumes that one can anticipate now.
September 18, 2012 9:18 am
Thats wrong.. Lot of Indian people would love to visit Pakistan on a vacation...just that hardened positions make it difficult to get visas.. a visit to hunza valley is way better than blowing money in vegas.. we should not have prejudices just because of bitter past..
September 18, 2012 12:11 pm
it is utterly immature. how can u debar a whole nation's population for deeds of few.. there are bizarre cases of prejudices in India too.. more people should be allowed to helps.. if sanity is the criteria, all developed countries should be sealed first.. they are the ones who have looted Asia and Africa without any sense...
dr vimal raina
September 18, 2012 1:46 pm
Maybe Tony Imran Ashan Mirza is an Indian, maybe not. Maybe the Muslim name confused you.Maybe you are really prejudiced. A Muslim name may mean an Indian Muslim.
Husain Jan
September 17, 2012 8:39 am
Yes, indeed the so-called facilities to Senior Citizens are not worth any thing as nicely explained in detail by Mr Asif Noorani. It is baffling as to why seniors are not allowed the visa on arrival at Mumbai and / or Delhi airports. Common men, even the seniors, with relatives on either side will continue to suffer as before. One more thing : The age limit of 65 and over also needs to be reviewed and in case the wife is travelling with husband her age limit be reduced to over 55 in order to facilitate the wife to accompany her husband as a senior citizen. Hope the authorities will kindly look into this aspect and do the needful soon.
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