Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said in Delhi Thursday that the relaxed guidelines for visas, cleared just a few weeks ago as a sign of improving bilateral relations, will not be impacted.
Meanwhile Pakistani nationals of over 65 years of age will find it easier to travel to India as they would be granted visa on arrival on payment of Rs 100 or USD 2 at the Attari-Wagha check post with effect from January 15.
This facility, however, would come with restrictions as persons seeking visa on arrival will not be permitted to stay in Punjab, Kerala and Jammu & Kashmir.
"From January 15, people from Pakistan above 65 years of age can avail the visa-on-arrival on reaching the Attari Integrated Check Post (ICP)," PTI quoted a government official as saying.
"It has been decided not to give visa-on-arrival for stay in Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, besides restrictive and prohibitive regions. Amritsar will only be used as transit point," he said. Under the liberalised visa regime, parts of which were operationalised during the visit of Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik to New Delhi on December 14, senior citizens above 65 years can visit twice a year and can go to five places in the country. However, there has to be a gap of two months between the two visits. Both the countries are likely to start this arrangement simultaneously at the Attari-Wagah check-post. The official said that visa, which would be granted to people in the prescribed age group crossing the border on foot, would be given for maximum of 45 days of stay in one visit and the visa fee would be Rs 100 or two US dollars. In September 2012, the then External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Malik signed a pact liberalising the restrictive visa agreement between India and Pakistan. At present, nearly 100 persons use the Attari-Wagah check post daily to cross border on foot with a good number being senior citizens. The new system is being introduced to facilitate senior citizens who mostly come for treatment or reunion with relatives in India. Now with the new mechanism, the number is likely to increase, the official said.
Meanwhile Amid the tension between India and Pakistan over the brutal killing of two Indian jawans in Kashmir, cross-border trade was affected Thursday
25 trucks from India were not able to cross the Line of Control after Pakistan refused to let them through. Local Indian officials were not able to get through to their counterparts in Azad Kashmir.