Move to ease visa key outcome of resumed Indo-Pak talks

Islamabad: A move by India and Pakistan to ease their decades-old visa regime to benefit tourists, senior citizens and businessmen was hailed on Saturday as a milestone in a “nascent” peace process, with the media here calling it the first major outcome of the dialogue that resumed last year.

The new liberalised visa regime was finalised during talks yesterday between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries so that it could be inked after a meeting between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar.

“Krishna arrives with ‘goodwill message’ as arch-rivals agree to soften visa rules,” read the headline on the front page of ‘Pakistan Today’, while ‘The Express Tribune’ headlined its report, “Burying the bitter past: Pakistan, India reach visa regime milestone.”

Photos of Krishna’s cordial interactions with Pakistani leaders like President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf featured on the front pages of most dailies, reflecting the good atmosphere that has marked recent rounds of talks.

Krishna’s last visit to Islamabad in 2010 had ended on a sour note after the then Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi launched a stunning tirade against him.

In its report, the Tribune said the new visa agreement would “deliver the first ever tangible results of a nascent peace process between the arch rivals that had stalled following the 2008 Mumbai attacks.”

The News daily reported Krishna had “sent out positive vibes” by telling the media soon after his arrival that India believed in a stable and prosperous Pakistan.