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India to Deport Thousands of Pakistanis in Country Illegally


India said it will deport thousands of Pakistanis staying in the country illegally. Indian authorities have also announced new curbs on Pakistani nationals visiting India.

Home Ministry officials said Pakistanis wanting to travel to India will be carefully screened before being granted visas, and extensions of tourist visas will not be permitted.

Officials said they are also considering plans to limit Pakistani visitors to just three cities. They are currently allowed to visit 12 cities.

Junior Home Minister Vidyasagar Rao said Sunday all state governments have also been asked to immediately arrest and deport more than eight-thousand Pakistanis who have overstayed visas in India. He said India has lost track of hundreds of Pakistani visitors in recent years.

Mr. Rao said the tighter controls are being introduced for security reasons. New Delhi blames Pakistani-backed Islamic militant groups for waging a violent insurgency in Indian Kashmir, and for militant attacks in India. Pakistan denied the accusation.

Pakistani authorities said they have no plans to retaliate against India's decision to put more restrictions on Pakistani visitors.

The partition of India by the British in 1947 left tens-of-thousands of families divided between the two countries, mostly Hindu India and Muslim-majority Pakistan.

It has never been easy for ordinary people to travel from one side of the border to the other, due to the bitter relations between the two countries. India and Pakistan have fought three wars and came close to a fourth this year.

The travel difficulties increased after India broke virtually all road, rail, and air links between the two countries following a militant attack on the Indian parliament last December. As a result, the number of visitors between the two countries declined sharply this year.

Political analysts said New Delhi's plans for new curbs on Pakistani visitors indicate bilateral relations are unlikely to improve in the near future.

Last week, Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani accused Pakistan of becoming a terrorist hub, saying Taleban activists had relocated to western Pakistan and Pakistani Kashmir, after fleeing U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Islamabad, an important ally in the U.S. led war against terrorism, strongly denies such charges.

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