Lahore: The Institute for Peace & Secular Studies (IPSS) organized a press conference on Friday, September 7, 2012 at the Lahore Press Club to demand that Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to sign an agreement to relax the Pak-India Visa Regime.
Ms. Saeeda Diep, Director IPSS while reading the Relax Visa Regime Petition stated that the organization had collected more than 85,000 signatures of Pakistani citizens on the petition over the last 8 months while an Indian partner organization had done the same on the Indian side. She stated that campaign experience in Lahore, Multan, Pakpattan, Faisalabad & Okara showed that an overwhelming majority of Pakistani citizens wanted peace with India and supported dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries. The 85,000 signatories attested that an increased people to people contact between the two countries would go a long way in creating and sustaining peace between the two countries.
She stated that according to the news, the upcoming relaxation in the regime was limited to senior citizens, businessmen and group tourists. While this was a step in the right direction, it was not enough as current visa application requirements made the visa process extremely cumbersome. She argued that a relaxed visa was a basic human right of families divided across the border and in the long term interest of both countries and South Asia as it would allow students, academics, artists, journalists, business men and other ordinary citizens to interact.
IPSS plans to hold a ‘Signatories to Peace Convention’ in Lahore on September 22 to be attended by parliamentarians, journalists, activists and dignitaries from both Pakistan & India to take stock of what comes out of these talks and to plan for next year. Additionally, IPSS will present the petition and convention resolution along with 85,000 signatures to Pakistani Prime Minister. She stated that she would also like to present the petition to Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna in person if given the chance to meet him during his Lahore visit.