Maharastra minister calls for easing India-Pakistan visa regime


Mumbai : Appreciating the ongoing efforts by Indian and Pakistani media to improve people-to-people contacts, Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil Friday called for easing the visa regime between the two neighbours.

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“I will personally take up this issue with Minister for External Affairs S.M. Krishna, who was our (Maharashtra) governor,” Patil told a 14-member media delegation from the Karachi and Hyderabad (Sindh) press clubs which is visiting Mumbai and Pune for a week at the invitation of the Press Club, Mumbai.

Pointing out that merely government-to-government efforts would not suffice, Patil said even the media on both sides have “a major role to play” in the ongoing peace process.

The home minister also promised to join an Indian media delegation on their next visit to Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Karachi Press Club president Tahir Hasan Khan called for setting up consulates in both Karachi and Mumbai to quicken the process of issuing visas in the two countries.

“The long distance of travel to New Delhi in India and Islamabad in Pakistan is preventing and discouraging many from following up for visas,” he said.

A delegation member, Karamat Ali, who is executive director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research, suggested starting ferry services between Mumbai and Karachi to enable people on both sides to travel at affordable costs.

“There are many families on both sides having relations or friends in India and Pakistan, and even small businessmen would like to travel for trade purposes. Such ferry services would be of immense help,” Ali said.

Earlier, the Pakistani delegation visited the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) to understand the functioning of the Indian stock exchanges.

The BSE’s acting CEO Ashish Chauhan said the BSE has a collaboration with Karachi Stock Exchange and offered Pakistani media persons courses conducted by the BSE to enhance their knowledge of the financial markets.

The delegation will go to Pune for a few engagements Saturday before coming back to Mumbai and returning to Pakistan.