ISLAMABAD: The online visa service which is currently available to citizens of 175 countries is planned to be expanded to a further 16 countries.
Aware sources told Dawn that the interior minister had moved a summary to this effect and was most likely to pass it on Tuesday (today) by the cabinet.
The official confirmed that the facilities for applying for an online visa in various categories, including visitor, business and student visas, would be applicable to people from 191 countries after acceptance of the summary.
In January last year the cabinet adopted a new innovative visa scheme aimed at fostering tourism in the country by issuing e-visa facilities to 175 countries and visas to 50 countries upon entry. The policy also allowed British and American citizens of Indian descent with United States or United Kingdom passports to request visas on arrival.
Tour operators authorised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have been permitted to carry tourist groups to Pakistan.
In addition, the procedure for securing a work visa for commercial purposes was also simplified for citizens of 96 countries.
This is the first step in opening up the country, the (new) Naya Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan said during the launch of the online visa programme in March last year, Pakistan already had a mindset: make it as impossible as you can to issue visas to someone.
He said there was great self-confidence and self-belief in the 60s that Pakistan was going up in the world at a rate faster than others and that fact was seen and accepted by the world too.
The Prime Minister said that the reputation of Pakistan at the time could be judged by the fact that President Ayub Khan was greeted at the airport by President John F. Kennedy himself during his state visit to the United States in 1961.
He regretted that a “socialist regime” came and reversed the phase (of prosperity and growth) in the 70s.
“So in the 1970s, our attitude shifted and we thought of making money as a sin,” he said.
He said that by attacking developers and tenants, a politician at the time used to launch every speech. He said what would finally bring about the change the country wanted was a change of attitude.