New Delhi: An industry body of South Asian businessmen has written to Home Minister P Chidambaram seeking relaxation of visa norms between India and Pakistan to encourage trade and investments between the countries.
In a letter to Chidambaram, SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Vikramjit Sahney said the present SAARC visa exemption scheme (SVES) is "extremely restrictive" on the movement of Indian and Pakistani businessmen.
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) members are - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan.
"Visa liberalisation between India and Pakistan are important to boost trade and investment between the countries. Already both the sides have taken so many steps to boost economic ties," Sahney said.
He suggested there should be no police reporting for people over the age of 70 years for visas.
He said the recent developments between the governments of India and Pakistan have given clear indication of the desire to enhance business relations and larger people-to-people contacts, especially the business community.
"Unfortunately, the present SVES is extremely restrictive on the movement of the Indian and Pakistani businessmen...," Sahney added.
In May, India and Pakistan had failed to ink the much-anticipated liberalised visa regime and merely agreed to do it an an early date after Islamabad insisted on political participation.
He also asked Chidambaram to consider the chamber`s proposal to increase visa from 100 to 500 for businessmen from each SAARC member country for one year.
"The current SVES is restrictive and needs to be rationalised and liberalised. The new policy does not truly reflect the aspirations of the Heads of States of the governments of SAARC nations," he said.
Sahney said out of about 12,000 SVES issued in a year under various categories, only 2,000 have been allocated for businessmen.
Meanwhile, according to a media report, Pakistan has decided to "curb efforts" to normalise trade relations with India and the prospects of abolishing a negative list regime by December have considerably dimmed.