India disappointed as visa pact with Pakistan deferred

Last Updated: Fri, May 25, 2012 14:20 hrs

New Delhi/Islamabad, May 25 (IANS) India Friday aired its disappointment that the much-awaited liberalised visa pact could not be signed in Islamabad as the Pakistani side had yet to complete procedures on its side. Islamabad said the pact should be finalised at the political level.

India's Home Secretary R.K. Singh held two-day talks with his Pakistani counterpart K.M. Siddique Akbar in Islamabad, but a pact for relaxing the visa regime could not be signed.

The two senior officials also discussed issues related to 26/11 justice and terrorism.

India conveyed to Pakistan about Islamabad's continued support to militancy against India and cited the activities of the Khalistan Zindabad Force. India also shared additional evidence against Hafiz Saaed, the suspected mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai carnage.

India has indicated its disappointment as the proposed visa pact was an important initiative that could have expanded the constituency of peace by encouraging people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

'We had gone there prepared to sign the document according to what was decided during President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to India (April 8),' Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told reporters in New Delhi.

Both sides had attached great importance to this pact, he said.

'The Pakistani side has referred to some delays in procedures,' Mathai said to queries about the fate of the visa pact.

The signing of the pact, according to informed sources, now can happen during External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna's visit to Islamabad in July. It can happen earlier also if Home Minister P. Chidambaram decides to visit Islamabad.

Pakistan had decided in principle to sign the agreement on the new liberalised visa regime with India but the pact would not be signed during the current round of talks, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters in Islamabad.

The signing of the pact had been postponed, he said. He, however, declined to say when it will be signed. The agreement involves important issues and should be finalised at the political level, he said.

The agreement involves important issues and should be finalised at the political level, he said.

The proposed visa regime is likely to include, among other things, tourist visas to each other's citizens and the issue of visas on arrival at the Wagah-Attari border for senior citizens and young children.

Asked a question, Malik said that Chidambaram was welcome to visit Pakistan and that he 'would be glad' if Chidambaram comes to Islamabad for the signing of the visa agreement.

Malik said both sides had exchanged dossiers on terrorism-related issues and that Pakistan had received additional evidence from India against Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief and Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Saeed.

Malik, however, said Pakistani authorities could not act on the basis of 'hearsay' but agreed to examine the evidence against Saeed.

The Indian side discussed continued support to militancy and further evidence against Saeed, he said.

More from Sify: