Pact on liberalized visa regime deferred
REZAUL H LASKAR/PTI
Islamabad/New Delhi, May 25: India and Pakistan Friday failed to sign an agreement on a new liberalized visa regime during the Home Secretary-level talks, with Islamabad saying that it wants it to be done at the political level.
The signing of the pact has been postponed, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters after meeting visiting Home Secretary
R K Singh and his delegation in Islamabad.
Pakistan had decided in principle to sign the agreement on the new liberalized visa regime with India but the pact would not be signed in the current talks, Malik said.
The agreement involves important issues and should be finalised at the political level, he said.
In New Delhi, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai attributed the failure of the signing of the agreement to “some delay in the procedure” in Pakistan and its Interior Minister's desire for political participation in the exercise.
India had gone to the Home Secretary-level talks in Islamabad "fully prepared" to sign the visa agreement as per the decision taken during the discussion between Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in April this year, he told reporters.
But "we also have reports that the Pakistani side referred to some delay in its procedure and the Pakistan Interior Minister's desire for political participation" in signing of the visa pact, Mathai said.
"Both sides had attached a lot of importance on signing the visa agreement", he added.
Ahead of the talks, Indian officials had said the two sides had given the finishing touches to a new relaxed visa regime that would for the first time include tourist visas, visas on arrival for senior citizens and children and year- long multiple-entry visas for businessmen.
In response to a question, Malik said that Home Minister P Chidambaram was welcome to visit Pakistan and that he "would be glad" if Chidambaram comes to Islamabad for the signing of the visa agreement.
Malik said both sides had exchanged dossiers on terrorism-related issues and that Pakistan had received additional evidence from India against JuD chief and LeT founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, a key accused in the Mumbai attacks.
However, he said Pakistani authorities could not act on the basis of "hearsay" and that they would examine the evidence against Saeed.
Malik said the two sides had also discussed the issue of India's alleged interference in Pakistan's Balochistan province and Interior Secretary Khwaja Siddique Akbar had been directed to provide "evidence" in this regard to his Indian counterpart.
He said a wide range of issues had been discussed during the meeting with the delegation led by Home Secretary Singh, including the probe into the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the visa regime and Balochistan.
He further said the two sides should give up the "blame-game" and work together to tackle issues like terrorism.
Mathai, replying to a question, said in Delhi that Pakistan had invited Home Minister Chidambaram who had said that he would visit that country at a convenient time.
His comments came as Home Secretary Singh held talks with his Pakistani counterpart Akbar on the second day of their two-day talks in the resort of Bhurban, about 70 km from Islamabad.
The two sides had yesterday discussed a wide range of issues, including counter-terrorism, infiltration, drug trafficking, a relaxed visa regime, networks involved in circulating fake currency and humanitarian matters, including the release of civilian prisoners and fishermen held in jails in both countries.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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