India, Pakistan enter into new visa regime
Travel between India and Pakistan will become easier with the operationalisation of a new visa regime on Friday that allows multi-city visas for up to five cities, visitor visas for two years for senior citizens and children below 12 years, visa on arrival for senior citizens, and group tourist visa, besides exempting specified categories of businessmen from police reporting.
The visa agreement was operationalised by home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and visiting Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik, both of whom agreed that it would promote people-to-people contact between the two countries.
The visa agreement was signed by the two sides on September 8. Malik said the new visa agreement was not only historic but a step forward for peace.
Outlining the key features of the new visa regime, Shinde said visas can now be granted for five places as against the earlier restriction of three cities. Visitor visas can be issued for up to two years where the applicant is above 65 years of age, where a national of one country is married to a national of the other country and children below 12 years accompanying their parents.
Senior citizens (above 65 years of age) can now avail of visa on arrival, to be issued at Attari/Wagah post for 45 days with a single entry. This will, however, take effect only from January 15, 2013.
In a move aimed at promoting economic ties between the neighbours, business visa norms have been eased, with businessmen with income above 5 million Pakistani rupees or having an annual turnover above 30 million Pakistani rupees now exempt from police reporting.
Indians and Pakistanis can travel to each other's country in groups comprising 10-50 members. The groups, organized by approved tour operators and travel agents, will be issued group tourist visas for 30 days. Group visas will, however, be issued from March 15, 2013.