Pakistan welcomes reduction in Saudi visa fees

In this file photo people are standing in queues at the new Islamabad International Airport (IIA).(APP)
Updated 17 February 2019

Pakistan welcomes reduction in Saudi visa fees

  • 'Crown Prince MBS has generously lowered the fee,' FO spokesperson says
  • The new visa fees came into effect from February 15

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan foreign office has hailed a new reduction in Saudi visit visa fees as a generous move by the crown prince in a tweet by the Foreign Office spokesperson on Sunday, just ahead of the Saudi royal’s arrival in the capital today.“On Prime Minister IK's initiative, suggesting reduction in Saudi Visa Fee for Pakistani Workers, Crown Prince MBS has generously lowered the fee,” spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Faisal wrote on Twitter.

The Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Islamabad announced in a statement on Friday that non-pilgrimage visit visa fees for single entry would be lowered from SR2,000 ($533) to SR338 ($90) while the fee for multiple entry visas would be reduced from SR3,000 ($800) to SR675 ($180).

According to the statement, the new fee structure will came into effect from February 15. 

Chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting, Senator Faisal Javed also welcomed the move on Twitter.

“Great News: Saudi Embassy announces to reduce Visa Fee for Pakistanis as one of the world's most beautiful Capital is ready to welcome Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman,” he wrote in a tweet on Saturday.

During his stay, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are expected to sign off on a number of investment agreements worth over $10 billion, and MoU’s in diverse sectors.

In December last year, Pakistan slashed its own visa fees for Saudi nationals, reducing the cost of single entry visas to SR270 ($72), and multiple entry fees to SR540 ($144).

With an estimated 2.7 million Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia, the reduction in visa fees is likely to benefit hundreds of thousands of Pakistani workers and laborers to bring their family members in on visit visas, and to promote trade and investment between the two countries.

Guru Nanak's anniversary: Pakistan set to open world's largest Sikh temple

Updated 21 October 2019

Guru Nanak's anniversary: Pakistan set to open world's largest Sikh temple

  • The project is a rare recent example of diplomatic cooperation between the two South Asian rivals
  • ‘The work on our side has been completed,’ FO spokesperson

LAHORE: Pakistan is all set to open the world’s largest Sikh temple to pilgrims and the public on Nov. 9, as construction work on the Kartarpur corridor enters its final stages, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on his official Facebook page on Sunday.
The visa-free border crossing from India to Kartarpur in Pakistan will be inaugurated just ahead of one of Sikhism’s most sacred festivals, and the 550th birthday of the religion’s founder, Guru Nanak on Nov. 12.
“Pakistan is all set to open its doors for Sikhs from all across the globe, as the construction work on Kartarpur project enters final stages and will be open to public on 9th November, 2019,” the Prime Minister said on Facebook.
He added: “World’s largest Gurdwara will be visited by Sikhs from across India and other parts of the world.”
The Kartarpur project is a rare recent example of diplomacy between the two South Asian rivals, who came to the brink of war in February this year. In August, relations were further inflamed when India flooded its portion of the disputed Kashmir valley with troops, imposed a communications lockdown and revoked the special legal status of the territory.
Since then, diplomatic relations between the two countries have been virtually non existent, with Pakistan recalling its envoy from India and banning bilateral trade.
But for the Sikh minority population in India’s northern state of Punjab and elsewhere, the diplomatic overture from Pakistan will come as a relief. The community has long sought easier access to the temple in Kartarpur, a village just 4 km over the border in Pakistan, and which otherwise requires a lengthy visa and travel process.
Instead of visas, Sikh and other pilgrims will now be given special permits to access the shrine, with online registration from the Indian interior ministry live on Sunday.
Earlier, reports in Indian media said Pakistan and India would sign off on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the Kartarpur corridor last week, but spokesperson for the Pakistan foreign office, Dr. Muhammad Faisal, denied the confirmation of any dates. He added that Pakistan’s portion of work on the project was complete.
“The work on our side has been completed,” Faisal told Arab News by telephone on Thursday.
Indian Punjab’s Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, has invited the leaders of all Indian political parties to join him to cross the border to the Gurdwara for the opening ceremony.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Indian side of the corridor but it is yet unclear whether he will cross into Pakistan following the event.
Indian pilgrims will pay Pakistan $20 to use the corridor, which includes roadways, a bridge over the Ravi River and an immigration office, with up to 5,000 Indians to be allowed access daily.