Cabinet nod to easier visas for Pakistanis


New Delhi, Apr 26: The move to ease travel between India and Pakistan for certain categories got the nod of Union Cabinet Thursday amid growing ties between the two countries.
The Cabinet gave its approval to signing of an agreement that would allow common people from either country to visit three earmarked cities, sources said.
The businessmen with multi-entry non-police reporting visas, can visit five cities instead of three as at present, they said. The provision will apply to business persons whose credentials are certified by the chambers on the both sides. From India, it will be FICCI and from Pakistani side, it will be Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).
The elderly people would be exempt from police reporting, as per the proposed agreement, the sources said.
The decision comes ahead of the meeting of Home Secretaries of the two countries, which is expected to take place in Islamabad in the last week of May.
The agreement could be signed at that meeting if Pakistan Cabinet also approves it, the sources said.
The two countries decided to ease visa regulations during the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari here on April 8.
The agreement is expected to give boost to the bilateral trade which is low at 2.7 billion dollars at present.

Meanwhile, amid renewed engagement, the Home Secretaries of the two countries are likely to have a bilateral meeting in Islamabad in the last week of May.
New Delhi has conveyed to Islamabad that Home Secretary R K Singh was ready to travel to the neighboring country for the dialogue anytime after May 22 when the Budget session of Parliament comes to an end.
"Now, Pakistan has given us a date for the talks in the last week of May. We are considering it and will convey our decision to them soon," a senior Home Ministry official said.
Earlier, Pakistan had suggested April 16 as the possible date for the Home Secretary level talks to be held in Islamabad but the date clashed with the crucial meeting of the Chief Ministers which is hosted by the Home Ministry.
Subsequently, New Delhi sought the fresh date for the meeting.
The bilateral meeting will be held amid renewed engagements between India and Pakistan. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted a lunch for Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on April 8 when he was here on a "private visit".
Last month Singh met Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.
Earlier, India had proposed the Home Secretary level talks on December 22-23, 2011 but Islamabad could not give its consent due to its domestic political situation at that time.
This will be the first meeting between Home Secretary R K Singh and his Pakistani counterpart K Siddique Akbar.
Their predecessors Gopal K Pillai and Qamar Zaman Chaudhary, had met in March 2011 in New Delhi.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 26 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 26 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 27 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST

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