New Delhi, October 6: As the fate of 19th SAARC summit is in soup after India decided to boycott Pakistan, PM Modi’s ambitious plan to roll out “business cards” to pave a way for “eminent businessmen” from the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries, to support “make in India” also took a backseat.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announced the roll out of business cards during his Islamabad visit on August 3 and 4. It was decided earlier to operationalise these cards during the now cancelled Saarc summit. The summit was due in Islamabad in November then.
The purpose of business card was to allow eminent business persons from SAARC countries to seamlessly travel across the region. Despite “security issues” India had given a green signal to issue business cards for Pakistani businessmen.
According to officials of Home Ministry “intelligence agencies” had expressed concerns about easing visa restrictions for Pakistani businessmen. But later on the government decided to implement cards so as to boost up normal relations with the neighbour.
As per the available information India had printed 5,000 high-security cards. The total applications received were nearly 2,500. There was no information as on how many applications were from Pakistan.
The Home Ministry is in trouble now as the project seems scrapped. However the official said they might use the card for another purpose in future.
The official also added: The cards were printed after several rounds of negotiations among the security agencies and have enhanced security features. It had initially hit a design hurdle, with agencies differing on the security features, pushing up the cost of the project.