Rehman Malik likely to visit India soon

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik has expressed his willingness to visit India around November 22 to kickstart the new liberal visa regime for deriving political capital out of the historic decision, ahead of next year’s elections  in his country.

Rehman indicated his eagerness to cross over the border to his Indian counterpart Sushilkumar Shinde during a meeting in the just-concluded Interpol general assembly in Rome. But, nothing has been formalised yet. 

Sources said Malik wanted to come to New Delhi either on November 11 or November 12, but Shinde expressed his helplessness to entertain him owing to a  tight schedule.

Subsequently, Mailk suggested November 22 and November 23. Shinde again had reservations owing to Parliament being in session.

Still, sources said, Malik was okay with it. But the proposal has to come to New Delhi formally.  The minister wants to visit Ajmer Sharief and the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Seen as a major confidence-building measure, the new visa agreement, signed by then Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Malik in Islamabad on September 8 and ratified by cabinets of both countries, eases restrictions on issuing visas to traders, elderly people, tourists, pilgrims, members of civil society and children. The relaxed provisions also allow visit to five places, instead of three at present.

Other than that, people above 65 years of age and children below 12 years of age have been exempted from reporting to the police.

It is learnt that Shinde again reminded Malik of various issues that he had taken up with the latter during their informal meeting at the Saarc conference held in September in the Maldives. Pakistan has also agreed to hand over a draft on the legal fallout of their court verdict on 26/11 trial to New Delhi.

India wants to send a team of the National Intelligence Agency to Islamabad to assess the legal position of their court order which refused to accept a Pakistan judicial commission’s recording of evidence during their visit to Mumbai.

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