Rehman Malik in India, new visa regime to begin

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 14, 2012 14:01 hrs

New Delhi: Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik arrived here Friday on a long discussed three-day visit, the highlight of which is expected to be the implementation of a liberalized visa regime agreed to in September.

Malik was received at the technical area of Palam airport by Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh.

The liberalized visa agreement, signed by then Indian external affairs minister S.M. Krishna and Malik in Islamabad Sep 8, is slated to become operational later in the day.

No police reporting for under 12s, over 65s and businesspersons are among the highlights of the new agreement that comes ahead of the Pakistan cricket series - three one-days and two T-20s from Dec 25 - for which Pakistani fans are expected to come to India.

According to officials, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde will meet Malik for bilateral talks.

Shinde is expected to call upon Pakistan to hand over the voice samples of the handlers of terrorists who attacked Mumbai in 2008.

He is also expected to press for handing over Lashkar-e-Taiba founder and Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

The two countries will also discuss counter-terrorism, border management, fake Indian currency notes and cooperation among security and investigation agencies, said officials.

Malik will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and opposition leader Sushma Swaraj Saturday, they said. He is expected to meet National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.

The official delegation accompanying Malik includes members from the interior ministry, foreign ministry and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Apart from Shinde, R.P.N. Singh and senior officials from the home ministry, external affairs ministry and various security agencies would take part in the deliberations.

Malik is visiting India at Shinde's invitation.

Stressing that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari had already invited Manmohan Singh to Pakistan, Malik said: "I would also invite the Indian prime minister for a visit on behalf of our leadership."

Before his departure from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in the capital, Malik told the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) that his visit to India was a "victory of peace" and for those who wanted to see improvement in bilateral relations.

Malik said now people from both countries, especially senior citizens, businessmen and journalists, could easily visit either country to further enhance trade and cultural relations.

He said the new visa accord was a gift from the leadership of both countries to the coming generations.

Peace and stability between the two countries would usher in a new era of progress and development in the region, Malik told APP.

The minister lauded the media for playing an important role in bringing the two nations closer.

Malik appreciated the role of the two high commissioners and said they worked hard for the improvement of relations.

He said that during his visit, he would give the message to the entire world that Pakistan and India were peace loving nations that believed in co-existence and wanted to live as peaceful neighbours.

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