Pakistan launches new online visa system

ISLAMABAD, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan on Thursday launched the new online visa system at a ceremony in federal capital Islamabad to promote tourism and investments into the country.

Addressing the launch ceremony, Khan said that issuing of online visa is a major step towards bringing real change as it will open the country to the outside world.

He said it also shows that Pakistan is a peaceful and stable country and open to the world for business and tourism. The mindset regarding the allowing of foreigners into the country needs to be changed in order to portray a positive image of Pakistan to the world, he added.

Hailing the launch as a “big step”, the premier said, “Pakistan has seen tough times in its efforts to combat terrorism but the situation today is different.” Khan pointed out, “This is the first step to open up the country, the Naya (new) Pakistan. Pakistan always had a mindset: make it as difficult as you can to grant anyone visas.” The Prime Minister said the beautiful region of Gilgit Baltistan of Pakistan is twice the size of Switzerland and there are still many unexplored areas in the area.

He said a task force on tourism will make sure that proper facilities are provided to the tourists.

Khan observed that the skiing resorts of Pakistan are unique in the world due to their topography. PM Khan said religious tourism is another major area that needs to be explored.

He expressed hope that religious sites of Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Sufism in the country can attract a large number of visitors from across the world.

The premier vowed that ancient civilizations of the country will be introduced to the world, adding that Peshawar city is the oldest living city in human history and a historical part in the city developed with German cooperation will be opened for tourists soon. He said all the tourist sights and attractions will be properly advertised on a dedicated website.

The new e-visa scheme will facilitate visitors from 175 countries while business visas will be offered to 90 countries. Around 55 countries will be granted visa-on-arrival facility that was earlier available to nationals of 24 countries only.

The government has also chalked out a visa policy for foreign journalists, specifically those from western countries. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Interior Minister Shehryar Khan Afridi and other senior officials attended the launch.

Source: Kuwait News Agency