India to allow students from Pakistan, Bangladesh to enter India for higher education
The government is set to lift a ban on students from both India and Pakistan from entering the country to study in higher education.
Under the plan, the students will be able to enter only on visas issued by the respective governments.
India and Pakistan currently hold different versions of the visas and each holds its own version of the visa, but the government has said it is in talks with the two governments to ensure that the students from each country can enter the country.
In a press release on Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs said the government was discussing the matter with Pakistan and the two countries were in negotiations on the visa arrangements for their nationals.
“India and the neighbouring countries are committed to facilitate safe and easy passage of their nationals for the purpose of higher education and research.
We are confident that the government of India will ensure that all Indian nationals, who are seeking to study or work in India, can enter to the country on visa-type visas issued on their respective nationalities,” it said.
India has had visa restrictions on Pakistani students for a decade, and it has been facing pressure from the United States and other countries to relax the rules.
India’s foreign ministry on Wednesday said the plan would be implemented “in phases” but did not provide any specific date.
Pakistan has a population of roughly 40 million and has a large Muslim minority.
The country has been grappling with a rise in violence between its and the Indian communities, as well as the growing influence of Islamist groups in the country, especially the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which has claimed responsibility for the attack on the army base in Uri last month that killed 16 Indian soldiers.
India last year introduced visa restrictions to ensure a level playing field for its nationals, but Pakistan has continued to block the entry of students from its neighbouring countries.
India banned Pakistani students from entering to study and work in the United Kingdom after a student attacked two soldiers in 2015, but it allowed them to stay.
Pakistan is also a close US ally and has provided Pakistan with millions of dollars in military equipment and training since 2002.
India, however, is one of the top foreign buyers of military equipment from Pakistan.