July 05 2020
1974 agreement to be replaced with liberal visa regime: Anand Sharma
15 February 2012

India, Pakistan have exchanged drafts which are pending government approval

In what could prove to be a historic step in removing the atmosphere of animosity between India and Pakistan and promoting peace and people-to-people exchange, both countries have agreed to completely revise the 1974 Bilateral Visa Agreement and put in place a liberal visa regime shortly for all categories of people, especially businessmen, as part of the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) aimed to promote peace in the region.

Briefing visiting Indian journalists after his bilateral meeting with his Pakistan counterpart, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Wednesday said both countries had exchanged drafts on the new visa regime which were now pending necessary approvals from the respective governments. These drafts have been prepared after the report of the Joint Working Group set up in March 2011, consisting of officials from the Home and Commerce Ministries.

“Both the countries are now moving forward. The 1974 visa regime will be phased out. Not only a liberal visa regime for the businessmen will be put in place but also the common man will be the beneficiary of the new liberal regime. There will be new systems in place for different categories of people but I cannot announce the details till they are approved from both sides. But I must state that the Inter-Ministerial consultations have been done and suggestions have been made. We are now in the final stages of giving shape to the new regime which should be in place shortly,” Mr. Sharma said.

Asked if the visa liberalisation would also be in place for the common man, Mr. Sharma said it would take into account all categories, which included the common man. “Under the new regime for businessmen, which will allow them multiple visas and entries into each other's country, the government would appoint two apex business chambers which would endorse the visa documents of the businessmen who require multiple visas. Based on that, visa would be issued to the concerned businessmen. In India, FICCI [Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry] and CII [Confederation of Indian Industry] had been designated as the nodal business chambers for this purpose and Pakistan will also appoint apex chambers.”

Mr. Sharma said he had also been assured by his counterpart that a negative trade regime list would be put in place shortly. Similarly, Pakistan has assured that the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for India would be in place by the year-end. “We are also working on putting in place a regime that would work towards allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in both countries.”

Mr. Sharma said India was committed to the adhering to the “Delhi roadmap” for taking definitive steps to normalise relations and trade with Pakistan. He also indicated that the issue of “negative list” trade by Pakistan would be resolved within the government soon and hopefully an announcement would be made within this month on the issue. “The people and the business leaders on both sides are eagerly awaiting these historic steps and we have a responsibility towards fulfilling their aspirations towards bringing the people of the two countries together in the interest of peace and prosperity in the region,” he said.



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