Pak visitors to get multi-city visas for cricket series

The government is planning to 'partially operationalise' the liberalised visa agreement with Pakistan, making the exception for the India-Pakistan cricket series scheduled to begin from December 25.

Under the new visa rules, spectators can apply for multi-city visas. ODI matches will be played in Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi, and the Twenty20 games in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

"The visitors will have to apply with documents including their proof of stay or hotel booking in India, air tickets confirmation and tickets of the matches in advance in case the person is willing to watch the whole series," said a Home Ministry official. Decision on the need to have a mandatory sponsor for the spectators is still being mulled and "no final decision" has been taken yet.

The decision was taken after the scheduled visit of Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik on November 22-23 was postponed due to the winter session of Parliament. Officials are now working to finalise new dates.

Malik had met Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde in Rome last week during the Interpol seminar. He was asked to visit India in November where the two were supposed to operationalise the new visa agreement.

Earlier, Pakistani visitors were given single-city visa and it had created lot of inconvenience to those wanting to watch more than a match. The new visa agreement, signed by former Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Interior Minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad on September 8, eases curbs on issuing visas to traders, elderly people, tourists, pilgrims, members of civil society and children.

Nearly 5,000 visas are likely to be issued for the visitors and a special committee headed by two additional secretaries has been constituted by Ministry of Home Affairs for the purpose.

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