Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna, left, shakes hand with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar.—AP Photo
Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna, left, shakes hand with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar.—AP File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India are likely to sign the long-awaited new visa regime during a visit by Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to Islamabad next week.

Mr Krishna will attend a review meeting of the peace dialogue and co-chair the plenary session of the India-Pakistan Joint Commission.

“The Minister for External Affairs of India will be visiting Pakistan on 7-9 Sept for holding review meeting with the foreign minister at her invitation,” the Foreign Office announced on Friday.

The meeting of foreign ministers will be preceded by talks at the foreign secretaries’ level. Officials of foreign ministries of the two countries will lay the ground work for the ministers.

Diplomatic sources said the Pakistani side was eagerly looking forward to signing the new visa agreement during Mr Krishna’s visit.

The agreement was finalised at a meeting of interior secretaries in May, but its signing was held up at the last minute because of opposition by Interior Minister Rehman Malik who insisted that it should be initialled at the political level.

Postponement of the signing during Indian Home Secretary R.K. Singh’s visit left Indian officials baffled. A joint statement issued after the talks between the interior secretaries welcomed the finalisation of the agreement and noted that it would be signed “at an early date”.

The excuse from the Pakistani side for delaying the signing was that “some internal approvals are under process and the agreement will be signed once they are in place”.

The new visa regime will, for the first time, include group tourist visa, visa on arrival for senior citizens and children and year-long multiple entry visa for businessmen.

“The two ministers will also co-chair the plenary of the India-Pakistan Joint Commission to be held in Islamabad on Sept 8,” the FO statement said.

The commission is meeting after five years. It was revived in 2005 after a decade and a half and was again suspended in 2008 because of the Mumbai attacks.

The foreign ministers’ meeting follows a meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday in Tehran on the sidelines of NAM summit.

The Tehran meeting was the second between the two leaders this year.

During the meeting, Mr Zardari noted that both the countries had made lot of progress towards normalising their ties.

Opinion

Poisoning minds
23 Jan 2021

Poisoning minds

ICS cadets were raised on James Mill’s notorious work.
The fog of Broadsheet
23 Jan 2021

The fog of Broadsheet

How can the government pump credibility into an official probe when it has already declared its own political verdict?
Cheating on online exams
23 Jan 2021

Cheating on online exams

The difficulty of preventing online cheating and low ethical standards means that these days most students cheat.
Language mess
Updated 22 Jan 2021

Language mess

Our policy confuses the medium-of-instruction debate with the language-acquisition debate.

Editorial

23 Jan 2021

Power price hike

ALREADY struggling to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and rising food prices, consumers received yet...
Updated 23 Jan 2021

Israeli land grab

WITH the chapter now closed on the Trump presidency, the eyes of many in the international community — ...
23 Jan 2021

New PhD policy

EARLIER in the week, the HEC chairman announced several changes for undergraduate and PhD degrees in the country....
Updated 22 Jan 2021

Time to heal

A multitude of foreign issues will test Biden’s mettle and require progressive thinking.
22 Jan 2021

Foreign funding

AS the pressure builds on his party in the foreign funding case, Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for an ...
22 Jan 2021

Decaying PTV

THE Cabinet Committee on State-Owned Enterprises has decided to remove Pakistan Television from the list of...