Government eases visa norms for Pak cricket fans

The Modi government, quick to advance cricket strategy with Islamabad, has facilitated a percentage of the visa conditions for Pakistani fans touching base in the nation to watch ICC T-20 World Cup tournament. “India hopes to issue around 1,000 visas to Pakistanis for the upcoming cricket tournament, with the highest turnout expected for India-Pakistan matches," a senior home ministry official told the Times of India. The official added that though the government was following the 2012 norms for issuing visas to Pakistani spectators, it has decided not to insist on proof of return journey.  To apply for the visa, fans need to share details of their incoming flight ticket, match ticket and proof of hotel reservation. Also, Pakistani fans above 65 years or under 15 years will be spared the inconvenience of experiencing police reporting on arrival at the match venue. As Mohali Indo-Pakistan match has been shifted to Kolkata, fans who have been issued visas already will be permitted to change their port of entry from Amritsar/New Delhi to Kolkata. Even as the move to relax visa norms encourages "genuine" Pakistani cricket buffs, the legislature is taking all safety measures to screen "terror"components who attempt to enter the nation under the affection of watching the tournament.  All Pakistani guests will be required to give their biometrics both while entering and leaving India. Besides, they would be required to do police reporting immediately after they land at the venue of the match. A senior officer said, "We will monitor the arrivals and departures. Our system will detect those who overstay the duration of their visas”, told the English daily.


(By: Neetu Gaur Sharma)