No letter from Aziz, ailing PoK student appeals for visa to Sushma Swaraj

07/18/2017

NEW DELHI, July 18: Diagnosed with a tumour in the liver, a 24-year-old in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir wants to travel to New Delhi for treatment but is unable to make the journey because Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs, will not write a letter to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad that the youth be granted a medical emergency visa.

Rawalakot resident Osama Ali’s family is appealing to Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to revoke the requirement of a letter from Aziz for a medical emergency visa.

On July 10, Swaraj had made such a letter conditional for these 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 has turned down the family’s plea for a letter from Aziz to the Indian High Commission.

Osama’s father Javed Naz Khan, a lawyer in Rawalakot and a worker of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), said he has 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 said over phone, breaking down as he narrated how his son was losing weight rapidly.

Khan said he had appealed to Aziz through PoK President Masood Khan. “But the Foreign Ministry said it was not the policy for Aziz Sahib to write the letter. The practice is for the Secretary in charge of the South Asia desk to write a letter, but we have learnt that the Indian High Commission has rejected some visas with these recommendations,” he said.

“I appeal to India to give a medical visa to my son without the letter,” Khan said.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Gopal Baglay directed The Indian Express to a series of tweets by Swaraj on July 10 in which she said “all that we require is his (Aziz’s) recommendation for the grant of medical visa to Pakistan nationals”.

In the tweets, Swaraj also referred to the visa application of Avantika Jadhav, who wants to visit Pakistan to meet her son Kulbhushan Jadhav. “I wrote a personal letter to Mr Sartaj Aziz for the grant of her visa to Pakistan. However, Mr Aziz has not shown the courtesy even to acknowledge my letter. But I assure Pakistan nationals seeking medical visa with a recommendation from Mr Sartaj Aziz, we will issue the visa immediately.”

Swaraj expressed “sympathies for all Pakistan nationals seeking medical visa for their treatment in India. I am sure Mr Sartaj Aziz also has consideration for the nationals of his country. I see no reason why should he hesitate to give his recommendation for nationals of his own country.”

India 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.(TIE)

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