INDIA/PAKISTAN: Remove the abnormal visa restrictions to ensure right to travel and trade

Posted on | september 6, 2012 | No Comments

Map indicating locations of Pakistan and IndiaDr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, Mr. Raja Pervez Ashraf, Prime Minister of Pakistan, or

Re: INDIA/PAKISTAN: Remove the abnormal visa restrictions to ensure right to travel and trade

Dear respectful Prime Ministers,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com.

I am writing to express concern regarding the issue raised by Aman ki Asha , a campaign for peace between India and Pakistan, jointly initiated by the Jang Group of Pakistan and The Times of India Group on January 1, 2010.

They have lunched an online petition in www.change.org.

As you know the people of Indian and Pakistani descent living in other countries, demand the right to visit our families across the border in ‘the other country’ – to see our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and, in some cases, our children. I demand the right to travel in the countries of our ancestors, to walk along coastlines and roads that represent our collective past, to seek and spread harmony across a subcontinent not divided by politics and propaganda. In this modern age of interdependence, it is a tragedy that the citizens of India and Pakistan are left peering over a border made indomitable and intimidating. There is little space for the hand of friendship to be extended across this border. We demand that this be changed.

I urge the governments of India and Pakistan to:

  • Allow long-term visas, especially to people with families and spouses across the border and to applicants who meet the visa criteria;
  • Allow visa on arrival to senior citizens and families, particularly children;
  • Allow tourist visas between India and Pakistan;
  • Make police reporting on arrival and departure the exception rather than the rule;
  • Do away with the requirement of entry and exit from the same point, using the same mode of transport;
  • Allow visas to be valid for the entire country (subject to reasonable restrictions) rather than one or two cities;
  • Immediately reopen the Mumbai and Karachi consulates, and consider opening more consulates in major cities;
  • Make student visas freely available;
  • Curtail unnecessary paperwork;
  • Ease visa restrictions for citizens of other countries who are of Indian or Pakistani descent, dual nationals, or expatriates from each other’s countries.

In addition, we urge the governments to do away with restrictions that are completely outdated in today’s cyber world, and to:

  • Allow more than two journalists each to be based in each other’s countries;
  • Undo the ban on cell-phone roaming;
  • Undo the ban on cross-border media, television and publications.

The authorities must refrain from trying to control the movements of their people, when their minds are free. It is mutual trust and genuine collaboration that will enable us to break from the past and repudiate the legacy of hatred and animosity. I can truly progress when ideas and art, business and tourism, and collaboration in the fields of health, sustainability and poverty alleviation are allowed to flourish and flow. Only then can our people and countries reach their full potential.

AUTHOR: William Nicholas Gomes
URL: www.williamgomes.org
E-MAIL: williamgomes.org [at] gmail.com

 

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