Pakistan team finally makes it to entrepreneurship summit

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The six-member Pakistani delegation that travelled to Hyderabad to attend the eighth edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit-2017 had some anxious moments when there was some uncertainty about securing Indian visas, given the strict norms governing the procedure reported The Hindu.

Then, the US State Department and US Embassy in Pakistan stepped in and worked closely with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. After that, everything became very simple. “The people in the Indian High Commission were phenomenally nice to us,” said Meenah Tariq, Head of Strategy and Accelerator, Invest 2 Innovate, Pakistan, who got the visa within a day.

Tariq was one of the last in the group to get the visa. But the first few people who applied had some trouble, she told The Hindu. Her team member Sadia Bashir was in the US until November 1 and so it was difficult for her to apply 30 days in advance and there were only 25 days left when she was back in Pakistan. Bashir works for a start-up project supported by the US State Department that counsels women.

The disappointment was in store for Bashir when Indian Embassy staff told her that she could not apply for a visa as she did not fulfil the mandatory 30 days’ condition and she was also asked to submit a long list of documents, right from her company registration document from the Pakistani Chamber of Commerce.

The GES -2017 is jointly organised by the US and Indian governments.

After intervention from the US State Department, the Indian side did not insist on documents other than the registration for the GES event and passports. It allowed the team to deposit their documents in designated drop boxes and the visas were given within two days, Bashir said.

“They called us in person and enquired whether everything was all right. After arriving in India, however, one of the male members was asked to report to the police and he missed the event inaugurated by Ivanka Trump, an adviser to US President. Even on Thursday, the last day of the event, the team members said he had gone to report to the police,” she said.

Tariq said they were given only city-specific visas — hers was for Hyderabad and Delhi and she could not even visit the Taj Mahal in Agra. She would need an additional visa for that. Bashir was allowed to travel only to Hyderabad and Mumbai. The visas were for 10 days.

Tariq also said that the bigger problem was that there were no direct flights. “Door to door, it took 30 hours for us to get to Hyderabad from Islamabad as we had to fly via Abu Dhabi, Mumbai and to Hyderabad and all the flights had long layovers. If we have a direct flight, it will make it so easy for people to work together”.