ISLAMABAD, Nov 20: President Asif Ali Zardari confirmed on Tuesday ratification of a visa agreement signed in September during a visit by the Indian external affairs minister to Pakistan.

“The ministry of foreign affairs in a summary had requested the prime minister to forward the instrument of ratification for his approval and affixation of president’s green seal. Accordingly, acting upon the advice of the prime minister, the president today confirmed the ratification of this agreement,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

The federal cabinet approved the signing of the agreement on Sept 5 and ratification of the protocol on Oct 31.

Under the agreement, besides diplomatic, non-diplomatic and official visas, a visitor visa will be issued to a person visiting the other country to meet relatives or friends or for any other legitimate purpose.

This visa will be valid for a maximum of five specified places for up to six months. The duration of stay of the visitor at a time shall not exceed three months.

The visitor visa may be issued for up to two years with multiple entries to a senior citizen (above 65 years of age); a national of one country married to one of the other and children below 12 years of age accompanying parent(s).

A transit visa for up to two entries in the city or port of entry for 36 hours in each case will be issued to persons travelling by air or sea to another country through Pakistan or India. The transit visa will have to be obtained beforehand. No visa will be required for a passenger directly transiting through an airport or seaport.

The agreement also says that group tourist visa may be issued to individual applicants for travel in a group with 10 to 50 members organised by approved tour operators and travel agents. Such a visa will be valid for 30 days and non-extendable.

The facility will also be available to students of educational institutions of both countries, but not for seeking admission in an institution of either country. Such tours should be organised by known and reputed academic institutions with sponsorship from a similar institution, purely for a non-religious purpose and prior clearance for the tour should be taken by the approved tour operator from the host country.

Businesspersons with an income of Rs500,000 or equivalent per annum or turnover/gross sale of Rs3 million will be given year-long business visas with five places for up to four entries. Those with a yearly income of at least Rs5 million or turnover of Rs30 million will be given one-year multiple entry business visas for up to 10 places with an exemption from police reporting.

The period of stay at a time shall not exceed 30 days.

The time taken in processing a business visa will not exceed five weeks.

Pilgrim visas will be issued in accordance with the 1974 protocol. The applications have to be submitted at least 45 days before the tour commences and the non-extendable visas will be for a single entry over 15 days.

People above 65 years of age will be granted single-entry visa on arrival at the Attari/Wagha checkpoint for 45 days.

This visa will be non-extendable and non-convertible.

The spokesman said an applicant must avail the visa within 90 days after its issuance.

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