Islamabad talks focus on ways to easing travel

India and Pakistan will meet again in August to take forward their discussions that concluded here on Friday on a revised visa regime within the framework of a Joint Working Group (JWG) that has been set up for the first time since the two countries entered into a Bilateral Visa Agreement in 1974.

The decision to set up a JWG was taken at the meeting of Home/Interior Secretaries in New Delhi in March this year as a major irritant in people-to-people contact was the delay in the issuance of visas — it was taking nearly two months at times.

According to the joint press statement by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad — the Pakistan Foreign Office called the same document a “joint statement” — the two sides discussed details and modalities of visa facilitation with a view to easing travel. Amendments to the existing visa agreement — signed in 1972 in pursuance of the Simla Agreement — were discussed while agreeing to continue working on a new regime.

Under the present regime, visas are issued on a reciprocal basis as a result of which if one country tightens up its system, the other follows suit.

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