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Modern facilities at Wagah border; easy visa for Pakistanis

Attari(PTI): Extending airport-like facilities for cross-border passengers and cargo movement, India today said it has approved a liberal visa regime for people of Pakistan, as New Delhi seeks peace and harmony with Islamabad with the help of trade free of all barriers.

Inaugurating an Integrated Check Post (ICP) here, built at a cost of Rs 150 crore and equipped with facilities, including helipad, Home Minister P Chidambaram said: “I dedicate this on auspicious Baisakhi Day to the nation, to India-Pakistan peace, harmony,friendship and glorious future for both the people…”

Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, present on the occasion, said, “It is a historic day. Long live Pakistan-India friendship.” Chidambaram said the Indian government has approved a new visa regime, which is yet to be by the Pakistani Cabinet. The visa rules would be “liberal for business people, for elderly, for children and for spouses,” he said.

Fahim said, in principle,business people would be given multiple entry visa for a year that could be extended later. Spread over 118 acres, the ICP has a passenger terminal of 9,600 sq mts with 16 immigration and 12 customs counters.

Fitted with X-ray baggage scanners and amenities like health services, child care and prayer room and ramps, the complex has a cargo-terminal and parking space for trucks.
Guarded by the Border Security Force (BSF), the ICP, though delayed by nine months in completion, has also been provided with a helipad.

Chidambaram appealed to Commerce Ministers of both the countries, present on the occasion, to dismantle all the trade barriers. “Trade is a great driving force…war may divide people, trade brings people together.”

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