New Delhi, Feb. 28: As the race to catch the train hots up in the run-up to India’s first full cricket series in Pakistan in almost 15 years, Islamabad has decided to grant visas only to those who have valid tickets for the matches.
As of now, the Pakistan high commission has fixed the upper limit for the visas at 8,000 as the country’s cricket board will sell only that many tickets for the one-dayers to Indian fans.
“Any person who has a valid ticket for the matches will be given a visa,” a Pakistan mission official said. Most of the tickets are being sold online by the Pakistan Cricket Board, and those who apply for visas would have to carry documents to prove they are valid ticket-holders.
Officials said it would not be possible to accommodate more Indians as the limited number of mission staffers were finding it tough to handle various queries pouring in from Delhi and other parts of the country.
“Knowing the popularity and the love for cricket in this part of the world, we are trying our best to accommodate as many people as possible,” a senior mission official said.
The two countries are also mulling various proposals, including special flights, trains and buses, to cope with the rush. They are hoping the demand will be mainly for the one-dayers and are unclear about how to handle a further rush for the test matches.
Asked if multi-entry visas would be issued to those who wanted to watch more than one match in Pakistan, the mission official said no final decision had been taken but there should not be a problem granting them.
Indian officials confirmed that proposals to increase the number of flights, trains and buses to Pakistan was under discussion, particularly for the 15-day period over which the one-dayers will be played.
India has also made a request that private airlines, other than Indian Airlines, be allowed to fly to Pakistan.
Officials said in private 8,000 visas were a big number and, despite the initial hype, so many may not travel to Pakistan. Appropriate steps would be taken depending on the ticket sales and the number wanting to visit Pakistan.