Islamabad: The much-awaited liberalised visa agreement between India and Pakistan will be signed on Saturday, introducing for the first time group tourist visas.
"The visa agreement will be signed tomorrow (Saturday) between the two countries," said Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik, whose opposition was mainly responsible for the pact not being signed in May.
The new agreement will replace the old and tardy visa regime that was signed in 1974.
For the first time, India and Pakistan will introduce group tourist visas which can be issued to groups of 10-50 people.
For the first time, India and Pakistan will introduce group tourist visas that will be issued to groups of 10-50 people who apply through tour operators, registered by the two governments.
The pact will benefit senior citizens and children as persons above 65 years and below 12 years will be issued visas on arrival at the border or airports, sources told PTI.
It will also include multiple-city visas valid for an year for businessmen, who are currently allowed to visit only three cities.
Sources said media and artists were also expected to benefit from the new visa regime which was finalised during the discussions held over the past year.
"Inking of the agreement is a positive development that will boost people to people contact," Malik said. Earlier in the day, when asked if the new visa agreement would be signed during External Affairs Minister SM Krishna's three-day visit here, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had said, "inshaallah (God willing). Should be".
Sources pointed out that India was always ready for signing the agreement. It was originally supposed to be signed in May during the Home/Interior Secretary-level talks held here in May, but Malik backed out at last minute saying that it should be inked at the political level.