ISLAMABAD    -  Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Sunday said the new e-visa policy will stimulate economic diplomacy.

In a statement, he said people were utilising the e-visa service for business, tourism and education purposes.

The FM’s statement came as opposition protested against the “anti-people budget” presented by the government this month.

Qureshi expressed satisfaction on the success of new visa regime and getting desired results.

He said e-visa policy will prove to be a milestone for promotion of tourism and strengthening of economy. Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressed hope that new e-visa policy will also stimulate economic diplomacy.

According to official records, 9931 e-visa applications have been received so far, of which 7160 persons were granted visa. Another 2246 applications are under consideration while 325 have been rejected on technical grounds.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said the government intended to promote tourism by easing visas for the citizens of different countries.

In March, Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated Pakistan Online Visa System, under which the online visa facility had been provided to citizens of 175 countries.

Under the scheme, business visa will be provided to citizens of 96 countries on their arrival in Pakistan. Similarly, visa on arrival will also be provided to tourists of 50 countries. Business visas facility under these categories will be provided within seven to 10 days.

The online visa facility includes the categories of tourism, business, work and student visa, diplomat and journalist visa, family visit, cultural visits and participation in conferences and seminars.

The restriction of the Non-Objection Certificate has been abolished for tourists visiting cantonment areas, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The restriction of visiting three cities for journalists has also been withdrawn.

Religious visa will be valid for 45 days but visas for International Non-Governmental Organisations’ workers, students, and domestic aids will be subjected to clearance from the Interior Ministry.

Prime Minister Khan believes religious tourism is a major area that needs to be explored. The PM claims religious sites of Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Sufism in the country can attract a large number of visitors from across the world

FM Qureshi said Pakistan’s visa policy had been thoroughly revamped. “Visa fee has been rationalized to make it enticing tourists from around the world,” he added.

He said online visa facility had been provided to citizens of 175 countries. He added that all roads leading to international borders will also be opened for foreigners.

Pakistani missions abroad will issue multiple visas of five year duration. The new aviation policy will promote tourism to northern areas.

Foreign Office is also making concerted efforts to remove foreign advisories. As a result, Portugal has removed the travel advisory for Pakistan while Canada has softened it.

Pakistan has updated the list of countries on visa abolition agreement - visa on arrival facility - under the new visa policy but ordinary passport holders of only five countries out of 48 in the list can avail the facility.

The five countries whose ordinary passport holders will avail the facility include Maldives, Nepal, Tonga, Turkmenistan and Western Samoa for 30 days.

The previous list of countries with which Pakistan signed the visa abolition agreement consists of 44 countries, but names of another seven countries were added to it, including Bahrain, Jordan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Malta, Slovak Republic and Turkmenistan while the names of three countries including Hellenic Republic (Greece), Iceland and Zambia were removed.

 

The list includes names of Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei Dar-us-Salam, China, Hong Kong, Czech, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, German, Indonesia, Kuwait, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Libya, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Philippine, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Vietnam and Yemen. It also includes names of Western Samoa, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Maldives and Nepal.

The list does not contain the names of India, the United States, the United Kingdom and Afghanistan, which implies that citizens from these countries will not be facilitated.

Pakistani embassies have been given clear instructions for welfare of the overseas Pakistanis and immediate redressal of their problems.

Consular Section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been digitized so that people could be fully facilitated in attestation of their documents.