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Relaxed Indo-Pak visa regime likely in Sep

New Delhi: Come September, India and Pakistan are likely to have a relaxed visa regime that will facilitate easy travel for journalists, businessmen and senior citizens of both the countries.

The neighbours are working closely towards amendments in the existing visa agreement at the Joint Working Group meetings for finalisation of a pact at the next Home Secretary-level talks expected to be held in September.

"If both the countries reach an agreement, for the first time India and Pakistan will have a liberalised visa regime," a government official said.

India has proposed relaxed norms for issuance of visas to journalists, businessmen, senior citizens and patients travelling for medical treatment.

Under the proposal, these visas will not be city specific and visa holders will be allowed to travel across the country, the official said.

New Delhi has proposed that anyone travelling to India with a valid visa who wants to travel again within a span of two years should be exempted from the time-consuming security background checks process which is done from here.

"We are positive on liberalising the visa regime with Pakistan to facilitate greater people-to-people contacts between the two nations," the official said.

Last week, at the end of a two-day meeting of the Joint Working Group on visa issues in Islamabad, the two sides announced that they had agreed to continue discussions on amendments in the existing visa agreement at the group`s next meeting to be held in New Delhi before the end of August.

The two sides also said that they would work for the finalisation of the new visa agreement at the next meeting of the Home and Interior Secretaries to be held in Islamabad.

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