Karachi, Nov 3: Indian and Pakistan will soon review their bilateral visa agreement and this will be further liberalized, Indian Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan, Manpreet Vohra, has said.
The new visa agreement will have sufficient leverage and flexibility, and will make special concessions for categories like senior citizens and create more categories, Vohra told reporters here. Under the present visa regime, there is no tourist visa category, he added.
“But we have been liberal in issuing visas and our policy actually outstrips the visa agreement," The News quoted Vohra, as saying. At present, the only categories that exist are that of visitor visas, which are given to members of divided families and visas to pilgrims in additional to the usual business, diplomatic and government visas.
“We have very powerful reasons to liberalize the visa regime," said Vohra, adding, “The people want it."
In 2006, over 100,000 visas were issued to Pakistan nationals. In 2007, the number, the Indian diplomat claimed, had exceeded 90,000 by October.
He also said that dual nationals would need to apply on their Pakistani passports if they still carry them.
Commenting on the issue of re-opening of the Indian Consulate General in Karachi, Vohra said that so far there had been no progress because there was no further development on the opening of a Pakistan Consulate General in Mumbai.
“We have managed to get a piece of land for them, but there is some problem with the access to that piece of land and this is causing a delay. As it is, we would recommend that they look at private arrangements to secure land or even rent a place as construction of a consulate will take time," he said.
Vohra, however, clarified that Jinnah House in Mumbai had been turned into a SAARC cultural centre “as Jinnah was a South Asian citizen."