Responding to a report in The Indian Express, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Tuesday waived the condition of a letter from Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Advisor Sartaj Aziz for an ailing PoK youth to get a visa and said he will be allowed to come here since Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is an integral part of India.
On Tuesday, The Indian Express reported that 24-year-old Osama Ali of Rawalakot in PoK, who had been diagnosed with a tumour in the liver, wanted to travel to New Delhi for treatment but was unable to make the journey because Aziz would not write a letter to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad for grant of a medical emergency visa. His family appealed to Sushma Swaraj to revoke the requirement of a letter from Aziz.
Swaraj responded by tweeting: “PoK is an integral part of India. Pakistan has illegally occupied it. We are giving him visa. No letter required.”
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone from Rawalakot, Osama’s father Javed Naz Khan said he received a call around 9 am from an official of the Indian High Commission. He could scarcely believe what the official was telling him: “Come tomorrow to Counter No.1 for the medical visa. Meet the official at the counter.” The official told Khan that the High Commission now had permission to grant his son the medical visa.
Khan said he was putting together all the papers that would be needed for the visa and would make the three-hour journey from Rawalakot to Islamabad. All praise for Swaraj, he said: “I would like to thank her profusely for taking a humane view of the case and giving the go-ahead for my son’s visa.”
He said the dates for the treatment would be finalised in consultation with the surgeon in New Delhi. The treatment may cost around Rs 50 lakh. “With the help of Allah and close family members and near and dear ones, I will arrange this amount,” Khan said.
On July 10, Swaraj had made a letter from Aziz conditional for grant of medical visas. She had also slammed Aziz for “not showing the courtesy even to acknowledge” her letter on a visa for the mother of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court on the charge of spying.
Osama has been accepted as a patient by a private hospital in Saket in New Delhi. Doctors at the hospital have told him he needs a liver transplant. But the Pakistan Foreign Affairs Ministry turned down the family’s plea for a letter from Aziz to the Indian High Commission.
Khan, who is a lawyer in Rawalakot and a worker of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), said he had no means to get his son treated in Europe or elsewhere. “It’s least expensive in India. I am the unfortunate father who is not able to provide treatment to his son,” he had told The Indian Express Monday.
New Delhi has always been generous with visas to Pakistani patients seeking treatment in India, and has never shut down this humanitarian window even in the worst of times in bilateral relations.