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Relaxed Pak-India Visa Regime Needs Further Liberalization

Lahore: The Institute for Peace & Secular Studies (IPSS) welcomes the relaxation of the visa regime between Pakistan & India and consider is an important step forward towards normalization of relations between the two countries. We congratulate the government of both countries for removing Police Reporting for business community; decreasing application process to maximum to 45 days; facilitating citizens of both countries married to each another and senior citizens; allowing tourism, increasing cities from 3 to 5; and increasing visas for Divided Families from 1 month single entry to 1 year 3 entries. We urge both governments to fast track the implementation of this agreement which sometimes takes a whole year and additionally to relax, change and ideally remove the following tedious and restrictive process which can bring relief to the common citizen of both countries.

Currently, the host has to send an invitation to the guest (prospective visitor) while submitting character certificate from the nearest police station, ration card/ NIC english translation and utility bill to the foreign/interior ministry. The guest has to submit character certificate from the nearest police station, utility bill, ration card/NIC english translation along with visa form (which can only be filled through the internet thus precluding poor populations by making it expensive) to the Consulate. The new regime does not say anything about change in this tedious process while additionally reporting to a Police Station upon arrival and leaving the city when there is only 1 police station in the whole city further makes deteriorates the experience of the ordinary traveler.

We thus request the governments to relax the associated visa process for ordinary citizens. Divided families should be given visa upon entry after an initial visa process has been done. Citizens of 65 & above be allowed to take related family members, students be facilitated to avail university scholarships (Eg. South Asia University, Dehli, India) & study in other country, and academics can easily travel for conferences. Lastly, why the need for both tedious requirements and police reporting? Visa Regime relaxation is a good step but sustainable peace requires a deepened people to people contact which is only possible if concrete steps are taken for the ordinary citizens and the youth of both countries to meet.

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