After 38 long years of a restrictive visa regime,External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar will sign into place a liberal visa agreement on Saturday.
The provisions of the agreement,first reported by The Indian Express,include group tourist visas for the first time as well as relaxation of travel restrictions.
The previous agreement,signed in 1974,had come in the backdrop of the 1971 war.
The agreement makes all references to currency in Pakistani rupees or its equivalent. Currently,100 Pakistan rupees are equal to about 60 Indian rupees. The provisions:
Group tourist visas will be issued for the first time to groups of 10-50 individuals. The group tour will have to be organised by an approved operator. The visa will be valid for 30 days. The operator will have to submit a detailed itinerary,and will have to report to police for the group.
Families with members married to a national of the other country will be eligible for two-year,multiple-entry visas. One person will be able to report to police on behalf of the family.
Category A businessmen,with an annual turnover of Pakistan rupees 5 million or more,will get a one-year multiple-entry visa,and will be able to travel to 10 places. Category B businessmen,with an annual turnover of half a million Pakistan rupees,will be eligible for a one-year visa with up to four entries,and can travel to five places. Businessmen can send a representative to report to the police.
Those 65 years old or older and children 12 years and below can get a 45-day visa on arrival at the Wagah-Attari border. They dont have to report to police.
The number of cities that a normal visitor can go to is up from three to five.
Currently,visitors are expected to enter and exit through the same point. This will be relaxed.