Hail it as ushering in of a new era of cooperation

Terming the signing of the new liberal visa regime by India and Pakistan as a historic moment, the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARCCCI) has welcomed this new initiative asserting that it would promote trust, goodwill, people to people contact and barrier-free trade between the two neighbours.

In a statement issued here, SAARCCCI president Vikramjit Singh Sahney welcoming the decision said it would give a quantum leap to the trust factor and raise bilateral trade volume between two countries, which at present ($ 2.5 billion) was insignificant as compared to the potential available.

Mr. Sahney, a strong proponent of peace and trade between India and Pakistan, said he had taken up this matter with the then Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Secretary General, SAARC, and the Home Secretary of Pakistan.

Time to rejoice

“This is the time to rejoice for all citizens of India and Pakistan, for businessmen and tourists, young and old alike. Inking of a liberalised visa regime that has broken barriers of 38-year-old norms of restrictive visas has appeased both the countries that had long since been separated by politics. Their people had been longing to meet their relatives, friends and re-visit their memories before it is too late,” he said.

Mr. Sahney stated that it was an earnest request on behalf of the people of both the countries, especially bonafide businessmen, senior citizens and young children, beckoning both the governments to remove the irritants in issuance of visas to them to do meaningful business, visit the land of the birth of their families for prosperity, solace and fulfilment.

Granting group visas to tourists and pilgrims through the tour operators, visas on arrival for several categories such as senior citizens, young children and a few other categories, increasing the number of days and cities of visit and longer duration -- all this is a treat and commencement of a new era of cooperation between both the governments, he remarked.

The Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) hailed the liberalised visa agreement between Indian and Pakistan as a big step towards normalisation of bilateral relations which were given a new thrust during the past one year.

In a statement here, FICCI president R.V. Kanoria said the new agreement that separates business visa from visitor’s visa would allow business persons from both countries to travel seamlessly across more cities and for a longer duration. This would help boost trade and business activities and give a fillip to the economies of the two countries.