File photo shows Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet at the PM Secretariat.—Photo by Online

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Federal Cabinet on Wednesday approved four agreements signed with neighbouring India, including a much-anticipated agreement on a liberalised visa regime aimed at promoting bilateral trade between the two countries.

The cabinet’s ratification Wednesday came more than a month and a half after the agreement’s initial signing on Sept 8, during then Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Pakistan.

The signing of the accord, which was ready in May, had initially been delayed because of Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s insistence on inking it at “the right time and at the appropriate level”.

The liberalised visa accord allows for issuance of visas to the elderly and children on arrival. It facilitates visas for group tourists and allows for issuance of multiple-entry visas to businesspeople.

The agreement is practically the first step towards easing the travel restrictions between the two countries since 1974, when the old visa regime came into force.

The federal cabinet had already given a nod to the pact before it was signed by officials from both countries.