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Pakistan announces visa on arrival scheme for Indians and citizens of 23 other countries

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Filed: Timeline

In a major policy shift, Pakistan on Wednesday said visas will be given to Indians on arrival and citizens of 23 other countries.

The Visa On Arrival scheme was announced by Pakistan's Minister for Tourism Nilofar Bakhtiar after receiving Pakistani passengers from New Delhi at Wagha Border on Wednesday.

Bhakhtiar said the VOA scheme, which was recently approved, would be implemented in two months, she was quoted by state run APP news agency from Lahore.

The scheme was aimed making Pakistan a tourist-friendly destination, she said.

She said the VOA period has also been extended from five to 15 days while visit visa would now be of one month duration instead of 15 days.

A group of at least five persons sent by an approved tour operator of a country under the new scheme would have the right to get VOA, she said responding to another query.

Bhakhtiar said Pakistan and India had great potential in tourism sector and both could improve two-way tourists flow through mutual understanding and cooperation.

"Today is World Tourism Day and I am receiving the passengers at Wagah to convey a message to our neighbouring country that Pakistan always adheres to friendship, fraternity, and peace," she said.

The people-to-people contact between Pakistan and India would guarantee improved bilateral relations, she said.

In June 2006, Pakistan, in an attempt to attract large tourist inflows from India, liberalised visa regime for Indian nationals making it easier for group tourists, professionals, businessmen, media personnel as well as diplomats to obtain hitherto stringently regulated visas.

Pakistan expanded the list of countries that were entitled for easy visa facility from 48 to 175 and visas for Indians were liberalised on many fronts on reciprocal basis.

Ever since the peace process began in 2004, the passenger traffic between India and Pakistan has grown manifold. With four bus services, two train services coupled with air services, hundreds of passengers travel between the two countries everyday.

Indian High Commission in Pakistan issues around 10,000 visas per month.

http://www.rediff.com/money/2006/sep/27pak.htm


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