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Tourist visas not possible in near future: Pakistan envoy

Posted on March 21, 2015
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Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit on Tuesday ruled out possibilities of initiating tourist visas between India and Pakistan “very soon”, saying the preference would be to implement the existing visa protocols.

“I would very much like to see that (tourist visa) happening sooner than later but then one has to be realistic. I do not see that happening very soon because visas on both sides… it is not liberalised the way you would like it to be liberalised,” Basit said here during a Calcutta Chamber of Commerce programme.

He was responding to question by an audience member on the scope of issuing tourist visas.

Basit said though there is a “huge interest” on both sides to travel to the two countries as tourists, “but we have not reached the stage where it is possible for our two countries to allow tourist visa”.

“When will that happen, honestly speaking, I do not know but I think we need to take first steps first. For example, there are bilateral agreements, protocols where we encourage religious tourism,” he said.

He said Sikh tourists go to Pakistan from India and all over the world and Hindu tourists go to Pakistan too and the way forward is to “streamline” the agreements already signed.

“From Pakistan side, people visit Ajmer Sharif, Nizamuddin Auliya (shrines) in India. So we need to first streamline whatever we have already agreed on and if we start implementing these agreements, these visa protocols and do not create artificial inhibitions, I think that will automatically create more confidence and mutual trust,” Basit said, stressing on implementing liberalised visa agreement signed between the neighbours.

“But we do not see that those agreements being implemented so we need to first implement those agreements and that will automatically generate more and more mutual trust and confidence and then we can expand that into other areas.

“I do not see that (tourist visa) happening instantly or in the near future but I think preference would be whatever we have agreed on lets first implement those agreements, those protocols,” he added.

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