Visas on arrival

Published Jan 16, 2013 12:00am

PAKISTAN and India have never had an easy relationship. But far from the posturing with which officialdom concerns itself, for the ordinary citizen on both sides one of the most immediate, personal problems has always been the tough visa restrictions between the two countries. That a liberalising agreement was inked out last September was greeted with relief by most people. It seemed, then, a comparatively rare moment of maturity when, on Monday, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad announced that from the next day forth, Pakistanis over 65 years of age would be issued visas on arrival if travelling through the Wagah-Attari border crossing. This was taken as indication that New Delhi was committed to taking Indo-Pakistan relations to the pre-Mumbai level, given that fresh tensions have developed along the line of control in Kashmir. The LoC clashes were on a small scale, but the intensity of political reaction — especially in India — has been out of proportion, with hawks on both sides advocating courses of action that were bound to set the normalisation process back.

Unfortunately, though, it now appears that such maturity may have been too much to hope for. Yesterday, Indian Home Secretary RK Singh said that the visa liberalisation plan had been put on hold while at a different forum, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned that after the incidents in Kashmir, “there cannot be business as usual” with Pakistan. It is claimed that the visa deal has been held up for technical reasons; but it is impossible not to wonder whether India has succumbed to the line being peddled by the hawks. The only way forward lies in the normalisation of ties, inch by inch if it must be; both governments must do everything in their power to come to an agreement over non-contentious issues. A visa liberalisation regime is one of them.


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Comments (7) (Closed)


Rashid Sultan
Jan 16, 2013 09:06am
What is taking place (and has taken place) on the LOC in terms of brutality and is happening internally in terms of protests, mass killing of ethnic minorities and the ding dong between the judiciary and the executive is no easy matter to contend with for those living within let alone those living without. Many of us would like a permanent visa out.
george
Jan 16, 2013 09:44am
The only way forward lies in the normalisation of ties, inch by inch if it must be; both governments must do everything in their power to come to an agreement over non-contentious issues. A visa liberalisation regime is one of them........ Visa or no visa, Pakistanis will watch hindi movies, buy Indian medicines, and everything Indian they can lay their hands on. Let us be honest about this. who will be affected? Muslims only, those who claimed they cannot live with hindus and migrated to Pakistan, and those who wanted Pakistan but stayed back to cause more misery to the hindus through their arrogance, fanaticism, and sheer hypocrisy and intolerance. So who cares if there is no travel between India and Pakistan? We Indians do not. You Pakistanis , please do not come to India. We do not like you.
Guru
Jan 16, 2013 03:35pm
Cutting & carrying heads as trophies, is a grave provocation. That is what is causing the backlash. We have a body w/o head & that is a fact. Pls explain the fact. Animals cannot be responsible for doing it, as was explained in Saurabh Kalia's case. Civilized nations don't do it, where does it leave Pakistan?
Raoul Ciao
Jan 16, 2013 11:04am
Did anyone comment on the stoppage by Pakistan IMMEDIATELY next day after the ceasefire issue in Kashmir of the cross border bus service and of trade and truck movements for trade? Looks like the issue of bringing up "nefarious designs" of the neighbour is an old media trick while keeping silent on the home grown issues including the fact of the head of an Indian soldier after bringing it home as a trophy by regular Pakistani troops is NOT in the news..... Good that hysterics are not happening in Pakistan, after all the media has kept out Pakistan's hand in the creation of the situation ;-)
shouvik
Jan 16, 2013 09:17pm
"The LoC clashes were on a small scale, but the intensity of political reaction — especially in India — has been out of proportion, with hawks on both sides advocating courses of action that were bound to set the normalisation process back." Your editorial completely ignores the that an Indian solder was beheaded. LOC clashes happened earlier too. Why does your editorial not ask : "Who ordered the beheading? Why was it done now to provoke India especially when the relationship was improving?" You then state: "Unfortunately, though, it now appears that such maturity may have been too much to hope for." If Pakistan expects maturity from India, then it should act in a mature manner.
zulfiqar
Jan 16, 2013 07:42pm
Woohoo, people seem to be very upset, guys relax, interaction between ordinary citizens will only address short comings. Indian don't like Pakistani, and otherwise. Lets really think about all of it again, it does not serve any Pakistani or Indian to kill each other, we both have to co-exist, we need to genuinely address real issues and find appropriate solutions, if not for us, then for our coming generations, we Pakistanies are here to stay and flourish as much as Indian are. Re Think
Komal S
Jan 16, 2013 08:18am
what is the point in rushing? When a soldier gets be-headed all statements from pakistan suggesting that this is India created hype and Pakistan has nothing to do with it. If India and it's Government is so mean to behead it's own Soldier to make Pakistan look bad, i think people in Pakistan should be glad that relationship does not get to normal. Anyway we all know how serious Pakistan is in normalizing with the way it is dragging it's feet on MFN status to India. Pakistani intellects should focus on giving sermons to Pakistani establishment instead of focusing on India.