India to expedite visa process for Pak. citizens

India has decided to expedite the visa process for Pakistani citizens, a senior government official said. On Thursday, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Gautam Bambawale, met Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and discussed steps to expedite the visas for Pakistanis.

The officials discussed upgrading the facilities at Wagah-Attari checkpoint to clear the backlog.

According to data available with the MHA, from March-December 2015, as many as 81,477 applications from Pakistanis were received, of which 49,265 cases were processed and 32,212 were pending for want of security clearances.

Visitors complain

Officials said they would smoothen the visa process as several visitors from Pakistan had complained that the entire procedure was lengthy and cumbersome.

“It is not like we are relaxing the norms for Pakistani visitors, the applications will have to be processed quickly and the visitor will be informed about the decision as soon as possible. For example, if earlier the process was taking 60 days, it will now have to be decided in 40 days,” said an official.

According to the official, there is always a huge demand from Pakistani visitors. Since the visa clearance for Pakistanis are decided by the Home Ministry, on many occasions the verification takes months.

Mr. Bambawale is believed to have informed the Home Secretary that there was a huge backlog of pending visa cases and a mechanism need to be put in place to resolve the same. The official said a central database could be maintained to verify the details of those who come to India at regular intervals.