Home secretaries to meet on May 24 in Islamabad, likely to ink visa agreement

Home secretaries to meet on May 24 in Islamabad, likely to ink visa agreement

The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Home secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan will take place in Islamabad on May 24-25 when the two sides are likely to sign a liberalized visa agreement. The Indian delegation will also press for action against perpetrators of the 26/11 terror attacks, including Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed.

The new visa agreement, if signed, will allow “certified” businessmen from both sides to get one-year multiple-entry “non-police reporting ” visas. It will also allow them to visit five cities instead of three.

The new regime will benefit the elderly from both sides as they will be exempt from police reporting. The two sides will also discuss drug trafficking and the fake currency problem. The Union cabinet gave its nod for signing the pact on April 25. Last week, home minister P Chidambaram said he hoped that the pact for a liberalized visa regime would be signed during the talks.

“I think the liberalized visa regime can be signed if Pakistan is ready. Our Cabinet has approved it. Then we can talk about trade-related matters, we can talk about CBMs along the LoC… I am optimistic,” he said.

The bilateral meeting will be held amid renewed Indo-Pak engagement. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had hosted a lunch for Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on April 8 when he was in India on a private visit.

Foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai had said then that the Prime Minster had broached the issue of action against 26/11 perpetrators and activities of Saeed with President Zardari. The Pak President had then suggested that further discussion on Saeed was needed and since the home secretaries of the two countries would be meeting, the issue could be taken up at that time.


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