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Pakistan launches online visa system to promote tourism

Imran Khan, Prime Minister, Pakistan has announced a new visa policy for 175 countries in an attempt to promote tourism and investment in the country.

In the first phase, the residents of Turkey, China, Malaysia, UK and UAE will be given an e-visa facility. Later, the facility will be extended to 175 countries.

Earlier, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi had said citizens of 175 countries can apply for online visa while people from 50 countries will be granted visa on arrival. He had said that foreign nationals of Indian origin will also be allowed to avail the facility of visa on arrival for religious tourism.

“Pakistan had a mindset of making the visa-issuing process difficult,” PM Khan said after inaugurating the Pakistan Online Visa System on Thursday. “The online visa issuance policy is a big change.”

Premier Khan said that the new visa policy aims to open the country to foreigners and promote tourism to earn money. “We are giving foreigners a chance to invest and make money in Pakistan,” the PM said. “Our northern areas are the twice the size of Switzerland.”

According to an advertisement by the Government of Pakistan in a local newspaper today, some salient points of the country’s new visa regime are that the processing time for manual and e-visa shall be seven to 10 working days, the number of countries for visa-on-arrival has increased from 24 to 50 and Pakistan Missions will grant five-year validity and one-year stay (multiple) visas to foreigners of Pakistani origins and their spouses which shall be processed in seven to 10 working days.

We have a special task force on tourism and we will devise a “logical” policy to promote tourism, he said, adding that the government will ensure that nobody damages the tourist sites and environment.

Malaysia has a tourism industry of $20 billion and Turkey earns $40 billion per year through tourism, PM Khan said.

The prime minister said that the country hasn’t tried to sell its archaeological heritage to the world. “There’s a huge ‘sleeping Budh’ discovered near Haripur. Then we have Sikh religious sites. We will market it the world now.”

Pakistan went through a difficult time because of terrorism but Pakistan is now a secure country, he said, praising the country’s security forces and intelligence agencies.

The entire Pakistan Super League will be held in Pakistan next year, he said.