Working on step-by-step approach with Pak to resolve issues: India
‘Decision On Liberal Visa Regime Soon’
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
New Delhi, May 7: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Asif Ali Zardari have underlined the need to move step-by-step and find pragmatic and mutually acceptable solutions to India-Pakistan bilateral issue, government told the Lok Sabha Monday.
“President of Pakistan, during his meeting with the Prime Minister on April 8, 2012, pointed out the need for all issues in the bilateral relationship, including Sir Creek, Siachen and Jammu and Kashmir, to be addressed,” Defence Minister A K Antony said.
The Minister was asked whether in view of the recent avalanche resulting in heavy casualties in an area in Pakistan-controlled Siachen, Islamabad had requested India for withdrawal of troops from the glacier. “Both leaders felt the need to move forward step-by-step and find pragmatic and mutually acceptable solutions to all those issues,” the Defence Minister said in a written reply.
Zardari had met Singh during a brief stopover here on his way to pilgrimage in Ajmer in Rajasthan. During the meeting, Singh had offered to Pakistan humanitarian assistance in search and rescue of 135 people, mostly soldiers, who were buried under snow after a massive avalanche hit a key Pakistani army camp in the Siachen sector on April 7. Replying to a question on details about Indian prisoners of war (PoWs) languishing in Pakistani jails, Antony said, “54 missing defence personnel of 1965 and 1971 wars are believed to be in the custody of Pakistan.” Noting that India has repeatedly been taking up the matter with Pakistan, he said, “Pakistan does not acknowledge the presence of any such personnel in its custody.”
A delegation of 14 relatives of missing defence personnel had visited 10 jails in Pakistan in June 2007. However, “the delegation could not conclusively confirm the physical presence of any missing defence personnel,” Antony said.
‘DECISION ON LIBERAL VISA REGIME SOON’
Meanwhile, the Parliament was informed today that the decision on issuance of multiple-entry and reporting-free visas for businessmen of India and Pakistan may be taken at the next Home Secretary level talks.
“A formal decision on this is expected to be taken at the forthcoming meeting of Home Secretary of India and Secretary of Ministry of Interior of Pakistan,” Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
Scindia was replying to a query that whether both nations have held discussions on multiple-entry and reporting-free visas for businessmen as part of reducing non-tariff barriers to promote trade and economic ties.
Visa restriction is considered a major hurdle by traders in the normalization of bilateral trade ties, he said.
The Home-Secretary level talks are likely to be held in Islamabad later this month.
Quoting the joint statement issued after the two Commerce Minister level talks in April, Scindia said that both trade ministers expressed a joint wish that “business visa regime needs to be liberalized at the earliest”.
In another reply, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said that both governments have agreed to explore the possibility of opening of Munabao/Khokrapuron route for trade, in consultation with stakeholders.
“In the meeting on February 15, 2012 between Commerce Ministers of India and Pakistan it was agreed for constituting a joint working group for this purpose,” Sharma said.
Last month, the second gate at Attari/Wagah border was inaugurated through which 137 items can be imported by Pakistan from India via land route. The Indian side does not restrict trade through land route.
Sharma said the issues discussed by commerce ministers last month included removal of restrictions by Pakistan on items permitted to be imported through land route; opening of more land custom stations, fast tracking of issues concerning trade in petroleum products; electricity and liberalization of visa regime.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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