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India gives more medical visas to Pakistanis

Continuing a trend that started after a promise made on Independence Day this year, India has issued medical visa for a one-year-old Pakistani seeking open heart surgery and a man seeking a liver transplant.

“We have approved the visa request for liver transplant surgery of your uncle Mr Azhar Hussain in India,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Wednesday in response to a request from a Pakistani national Abbas who describes himself as a social activist and a liberal on his Twitter handle.

Swaraj had earlier on Tuesday night announced medical visa for a one-year-old Pakistani girl.

“We are giving visa for the open heart surgery of your one-year-old daughter Shireen Shiraz in India,” she tweeted in response to a request from the child’s mother Hira Shiraz.

So far this month, India has issued five medical visas for Pakistanis seeking urgent treatment.

India had last month also issued a medical visa to a Pakistani child seeking open heart surgery in India.

On Independence Day, the External Affairs Ministry had announced that India would provide medical visas to all bona fide Pakistani patients.

As ties between the two countries soured over various issues, the ministry had announced in May that only a letter of recommendation by then Pakistan Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz would enable a Pakistani national to get a medical visa for India.

The action was termed “highly regrettable” by Islamabad, which said that asking for a letter from the Foreign Affairs Advisor violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country.

However, on July 18, a patient from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, seeking treatment in New Delhi for liver tumour, got a visa.

Swaraj then said that he needed no recommendation from the Pakistani government for a medical visa because the territory “is an integral part of India”.