Current Affairs

Goans settled in Pakistan can now get ‘Long Term’ Visas to India

The federal government yesterday announced it has decided to grant long-term visas and in some cases Indian citizenship to Christian and Buddhist minorities in Pakistan. Until now this benefit was only for Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan, regarded as minorities there.

Most Pakistani Goan Catholics migrated to that country for employment during the Portuguese colonial days. Goa was a Portuguese colony from 1510 to 1961. Many Goans were thus born in Pakistan although they had their family and property in Goa. Issuing of visas to Pakistani nationals visiting India is governed by the Indo-Pak visa agreement of 1974, which only provides for the issue of short-term visas.

Commissioner for NRI (non-resident Indians) Affairs, Eduardo Faleiro, requested the Pakistani minister for minority communities Shahbaz Bhatti, who was killed in March, to include Christians in the list of beneficiaries “which would enable them to qualify for Indian citizenship.”

The two neighboring countries have had tense relations in the past which divided hundreds of Goan families. Earlier, Goans settled in Pakistan had a chance to travel to Goa only during the exposition of relics of Saint Francis Xavier. The order was issued by the home ministry on August 11 but the information was released to the media only yesterday.

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