July 2001 News

India to open road route, more border checkpost

9 July 2001
The Asian Age

New Delhi: India on Monday eased visa restrictions for Pakistani travellers, continuing pre-summit confidence-building measures. New Delhi said Pakistanis travelling to India by land would be granted visas on arrival at designated checkposts along the international border and Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. The visa rules are being relaxed at the behest of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. A MEA spokesperson said the checkposts would be finalised soon. The Prime Minister also announced the opening of a road route at Attari, a border post near Amritsar, to ensure easier movement of people from across the border. The MEA announced that an additional checkpost will also be opened at Munabao, Rajasthan. MEA officials said the checkposts would be set up on the “traditional routes” between India and Pakistan along the LoC. One such post is likely to come up at Uri in North Kashmir, across Muzaffarabad. The MEA spokesperson said she could not deny or confirm whether the post would come up in Jammu and Kashmir. There have been proposals to open the road between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. This is the first time in India-Pakistan relations that checkposts are being opened at designated points along the international border and LoC. The spokesperson said administrative arrangements, including those for transport, would be put in place within three months. At present the visa regime between the two countries is confined only to divided families. The Indian foreign office said the decision will lead to an increase in the number of visas issued to Pakistani officials. At present the Indian high commission in Islamabad issues 350 visas on an average every day. The officials said the provision requiring travellers to report to the police in the two countries, barring certain categories, would continue. On whether Jinnah House in Mumbai would be handed over to Pakistan for opening its consulate there, an MEA official said, “Jinnah House is no stumbling block,” implying that this could be considered by New Delhi.


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