India and Pakistan have gone ahead with a new and liberalised visa agreement. The pact, signed between S M Krishna, Minister for External Affairs, Govt. of India and Rehman Malik, Interior Minister of Pakistan, replaces the old visa regime that was signed in 1974.
The new pact replaces a 38-year old restrictive visa agreement and will pave the way for time-bound visa approval and greater people-to-people contact and boost trade. Under the new regime, one can visit five places instead of three which is allowed currently, while those above 65 years and below 12 years of age and eminent businessmen are exempted from police reporting.
Under the visitor visa category, earlier, only single entry visa used to be issued for three months for meeting relatives, friends, business or other legitimate purpose. Now, a single entry visa is to be issued for six months but the stay should not exceed three months at a time.
The new group tourist visa will be issued for not less than 10 people and not more than 50 people with a validity of 30 days. The group visa will have to be issued through tour operators. The new agreement has also introduced two categories for business visa.