Islamabad: Pakistan has approved a liberalised visa agreement with India that will relax curbs on issuing travel documents to traders, elderly people, tourists, pilgrims, members of the civil society and children, Xinhua reported.

The two countries had signed the agreement in September during the then Indian foreign minister S.M. Krishna's visit to Islamabad. Pakistan Information Minister Qamar uz Zaman Kaira told a news conference here on Wednesday that at a cabinet meeting presided by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, the members unanimously accorded approval to the relaxed visa agreement with India which he hoped will promote people-to-people contacts.

A 38-year-old visa pact has been replaced with the new pact, which says that visa has to be issued in a period of not exceeding 45 days of application. Under the new system, one can visit five places instead of three at present and those above 65 and children below 12 years of age and eminent businessmen are exempted from police reporting.

Under the category of "Visitor visa", in the new pact, single entry visa is to be issued for six months. But the stay should not exceed three months at a time. Earlier, only single entry visa for three months used to be issued for meeting relatives, friends, business or other legitimate purpose.

Under the new Category II, a "Visitor visa" for a maximum five specified places may be issued for a longer period, up to two years with multiple entries to senior citizens (above 65 years old), spouses of a national of one country married to a person of another country and children below 12 years of age accompanying parents as given earlier.
The new "Group Tourist visa" will be issued for no less than 10 people and no more than 50 people. Valid up to 30 days, this visa will have to be applied through tour operators registered by the two governments.

The Pakistan cabinet also approved three agreements regarding customs and certification issues, which were also signed by officials of the commerce ministries of both countries in September.


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