Chandigarh, Nov 2 : Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal today sought Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's intervention for opening of consulates in Amritsar and Lahore respectively.
In a communique sent to the Home Minister today, Badal wrote saying that an office of Consulate General of Pakistan in Amritsar and Indian High Commission in Lahore would facilitate issuance of visa without having to travel to either Delhi or Islamabad.
Listing out the problems, Badal said it takes almost two months for processing the visa of Indian nationals who wished to visit Pakistan.
Similarly, Pakistani nationals who intend to visit India are required to have a sponsorship letter attested by a gazetted officer, which is a difficult condition to meet, he added.
"Central Government should prevail upon the Government of Pakistan to curtail this waiting period," he said.
Badal also suggested involvement of trade associations like CII and PHD Chambers of Commerce at the national, state and district level into recommending Pakistani traders who wished to visit India so that the issuance of their visas could be put on a fast track.
Stressing on the need for encouraging medical tourism, Badal said he saw great potential in it since patients in Pakistan suffering from eye and bone diseases did not have access to appropriate surgical facilities in their country while India on the other hand had good orthopaedic and ophthalmic hospitals to meet their needs.
Badal said he was happy for the fact that India and Pakistan were moving towards a liberalised visa regime that will help trade and also cement people to people ties.
He emphasised that trade and cultural ties create a more congenial atmosphere within the two countries and both government should initiate all steps to push this process further.