India bans medical visas for Pakistan

Pakistan media today claimed that India has stopped the medical visa service to Pakistani citizens without giving any reasons.

India last month had decided to slow down its visa process services to Pakistani citizens, except medical and hospitilisation purposes.

According to the reports by the Pakistan Observer, India is planning to make the visa process more complicated, by making several changes in the rules.

The Pakistan Foreign Office has expressed reservation over the move that will affect thousands of patients from Pakistan, the report said.

The development came in the context of the speech by India’s foreign minister in parliament last month over Kulbushan Jadav’s death sentence in Pakistan.

Sushma Swaraj had announced in Parliament that India will go to any extent to provide justice to Jadhav.

According to a report in The Mint, the number of medical visas issued to Pakistani patients in 2015-16 stood at a measly 1,921 compared to 58,360 to patients from Bangladesh and 29,492 to patients from Afghanistan. Due to the low number of medical visas issued, Pakistan contributed only $6 million to India’s services exports compared to $343 million by Bangladesh in 2015-16.

India has emerged as a top-notch destination for medical value travel because of its world-class healthcare facilities and affordable price.

While the move will bring the two countries at loggerheads once again, it will further escalate the rising tension between the two neighbors.

Earlier, Pakistani nationals could get visitor visa of six months to meet relatives or friends or any other legitimate purpose and the duration of stay in India at a time would not exceed three months. “However, senior citizens (above 65 years of age) or a Pakistan national married to an Indian and their children below 12 years of age accompanying parents may be granted two years visit visa with multiple entries subject to certain conditions,” minister of state in the ministry of home affairs Kiren Rijiju said in response to a question in Rajya Sabha earlier last month.

India aims to significantly promote medical tourism and has recently liberalized its e-visa system for most of the countries except Pakistan.

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