Islamabad, Sept. 27 (PTI): Pakistan pulled a rabbit out of its diplomatic hat today by announcing visas on arrival for Indians.
Visas will be given to Indians and citizens of 23 other countries on arrival, tourism minister Nilofar Bakhtiar said at Wagah after receiving Pakistani passengers from New Delhi.
Reporting from Lahore, the state-run APP news agency quoted her as saying the scheme would be implemented in two months.
She said the period of visa on arrival had also been extended from five to 15 days. A visit visa will now be given for a month instead of 15 days.
A group of at least five persons sent by an approved tour operator of their country will have the right to get a visa on arrival, she said.
“Today is world tourism day and I am receiving the passengers at Wagah to convey a message to our neighbouring country that Pakistan always adheres to friendship, fraternity, and peace,” she said.
The move could take India by surprise as it has usually been more vocal in pressing for wider people to people contacts.
Pakistan’s decision follows an offer it made at a meeting of Saarc immigration officers in Delhi earlier this month to relax the visa regime. Additional secretary (internal security) Qamar-U-Zaman, who represented Pakistan, said Islamabad wanted to lift restrictions on travel.