Visa pact delayed due to `scheduling problem`: Pak

Pakistan on Thursday said a new visa agreement with India had been delayed due to a "scheduling problem".

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday said a new visa agreement with India had been "negotiated and agreed upon" but the signing of the pact had been delayed due to a "scheduling problem".

A joint statement issued after a recent meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries had stated that the visa agreement "has been negotiated and agreed upon", Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said during a weekly news briefing.

"Now, we need to sign it, obviously at the political level. The delay is mainly because of some scheduling problem," he said in response to a question.

During talks between the Home and Interior Secretaries of the two sides in May, the Indian delegation had come prepared to sign the agreement aimed at easing regulations for certain categories of visa-seekers, including tourists, businessmen and artists.

However, the pact could not be inked due to Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik`s insistence that it should be signed by the political leadership.

In response to another question, Khan said the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan will meet in the first half of September. "The dates are being finalised for that," he said.

Khan told the news briefing in response to a question that Pakistan and the US will soon sign a memorandum of understanding on NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.
"The MoU has not been signed yet. As I mentioned earlier, technical discussions have almost been completed and we are going through the internal processes of finalising the MoU.

"We are quite hopeful that it will be signed shortly," he said.

Pakistan closed the supply lines after a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 of its soldiers last November. They were reopened last week after US apologised for the NATO attack.

Khan said Pakistan had not closed the supply routes for financial gains. The move was a principled decision aimed at protecting the country`s sovereignty, he said.