No SAARC visa for 19 categories

The eight SAARC countries have decided to exempt 19 categories of people from visa requirement and agreed to grant multi- entry visas for three to six months to selected journalists, business persons and sportspersons without prior clearance.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an organization of South Asian nations, founded in December 1985 and dedicated to economic, technological, social, and cultural development emphasizing collective self-reliance. Its seven founding members are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan joined the organization in 2007. Meetings of heads of state are usually scheduled annually; meetings of foreign secretaries, twice annually. It is headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The meeting of SAAARC council of ministers, held in the Bhutanese Capital of Thimphu also endorsed India’s proposal for setting up of a SAARC forum, comprising non-government officials to act as a pressure group for increasing regional integration, media report said.

Revisiting the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme, the meeting approved a proposal under which visa regime could be liberalised for selected groups.

People from 19 other categories, including members of parliament, diplomats and non-government people involved in SAARC projects will get visa stickers from the respective foreign ministries exempting them from visa requirements.