ISLAMABAD  -   Pakistan Monday urged the world to revisit their travel advisories after Islamabad introduced a liberal visa policy.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan had a great potential in tourism and the new visa policy will multiply the tourists.

Speaking at the Gandahara Civilisation and Heritage Forum here -  attended also by the ambassadors of different countries , Qureshi said such a course will increase the engagement level and help build strong relations.

He said the security situation stood much improved in the country as a result of sacrifices “rendered by our people and the armed forces.”

Last week, Pakistan announced a new visa policy, granting visas on arrival to citizens of 50 countries. Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the residents of 175 countries will also be able to avail e-visa services.

The government has allowed approved tour operators to bring tourist groups to the country under new policy.

The Indian-origin American and British citizens will also be given visas on arrival. Business visa will now be provided to the citizens of 96 countries from the previous 68 countries. The Business visa will be stamped in eight to 10 days.

The period of diplomatic visa has also been extended from one year to three years whilst that of students’ visa to two years from one year.

The visas for journalist will now be processed through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and they will also be given long term visas without any curbs.

Foreign Minister Qureshi apprised the envoys about the government’s liberalized visa regime. He said Pakistan had opened Kartarpur corridor recognising the interests of Sikh community.

He said Pakistan was thankful to the Indian side for positively responding to Pakistan’s initiative. He said Rs2.5 billion will be spent on the establishment of necessary infrastructure in the first phase to facilitate the visits of Sikh community.

The Foreign Minister said the response of Sikh community on Pakistan’s initiative has been overwhelming. He said this initiative had the potential to create goodwill between Pakistan and India. He hoped that Kartarpur Corridor initiative and other such steps will bring a change in the attitudes of the two neighbours who have remained hostile to each other for many decades.

Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua highlighted the Gandhara Heritage. She said apart from being blessed with natural beauty, “Pakistan has many sites sacred to followers of many religions including Buddhism. These sites have a potential to attract foreigners especially people across many countries.”

 The envoys of various countries as well as experts on Gandhara Civilization shared their valuable inputs in the forum.  It was decided to constitute Gandhara Forum consisting of Ambassadors and High Commissioners in Islamabad, representatives, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Provincial Tourism Department as well as Experts on Gandhara Civilization.

Separately yesterday, the members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee led by chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain held a meeting with Foreign Minister Qureshi to deliberate on  the recent situation of Occupied Kashmir.

 The minister apprised the members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee of the efforts undertaken by the government to highlight the issue o gross human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The Foreign Minister said that the Reports by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UK’s All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group, confirm the atrocities being perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

He said Pakistan will continue to extend vigorous political and moral support to its  Kashmiri brethren till realisation of their principled demand of right to self-determination.

He emphasised that “we need to highlight the findings of these reports before the international community and reiterate our call for establishment of a Commission of Inquiry, as recommended by the OHCHR Report, to investigate the human rights violations in Kashmir.”

The participants agreed that it was essential to draw the attention of the world community towards the humanitarian emergency in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, said an official statement.

They also pledged their support to the valiant people of Kashmir in their just struggle to achieve their right to self-determination, it added.

He invited all the political parties of parliament and Kashmiri leadership to attend seminar organized at House of Commons on February 4 of the next month and exhibition regarding Kashmir on February 5 of the next month in London.

Qureshi also extend invitation to the members of Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs to attend International Conference with regard to Kashmir in London.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Qureshi held a meeting with British High Commissioner Thomas Drew here. The two sides expressed satisfaction at the current trajectory of bilateral ties and agreed to further enhance relations in all areas of mutual interest.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed wide range of bilateral and regional issues. The Foreign Minister highlighted the continued atrocities perpetrated by the security forces in Occupied Kashmir, which had been confirmed by the reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and All Parties Parliamentary Group on Kashmir in the British parliament.

Qureshi also briefed the British High Commissioner on the current political situation in Afghanistan. He said that peace and stability in Afghanistan was a shared responsibility and Pakistan would continue to support all efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The High Commissioner assured of his government’s full support in enhancing bilateral relations in all areas of mutual interest, said a foreign ministry statement.