Its far easier to reach Sushma Swaraj on twitter than NSA in Islamabad: Pakistani family praises MEA’s help


New Delhi: A 15-month-old Pakistani girl Shiraz recovered from a complex heart surgery, in a Noida hospital and it depicted India’s open-heartedness in the face of the chill that has set in ties between the neighbouring countries.

From Karachi’s Shiraz Ahmed and his wife Hira, 8 months ago brought their daughter to India for a heart operation, getting visas was not much of a problem but last month, when they had to come again for a more complex heart surgery, visas were hard to come by and time was running out. At that time, Ahmed decided to open a Twitter account and appeal directly to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj “I put out the appeal on the morning of October 18. Within a few hours, the minister responded and I got a call from the Indian High Commission saying the visas were being dispatched to me in Karachi,” Ahemd informed this to ET.


He also added that “When we arrived at the Delhi airport, customs officials received us and got us a queue-less immigration so as not to waste any time,” and it was there second trip to Jaypee Hospital, Noida for heart surgery.

Shira’s mother Hira said, “The doctors say she will need a third heart surgery when she is 10 years old. I hope when we come then, India-Pakistan relations would have improved and visas would be easier to get and people speak of India-Pakistan rivalry, but I only know that India gave life to my child.”

According to Economic times report,  many pakistani families who expressed similar sentiments after having received similar help from Swaraj. And they noted a problem where India recently introduced earlier this year a rule where as per which Pakistanis applying for a medical visit to visit India would need a recommendation from Pakistan’s national security adviser (NSA).

Lahore’s Mehwish Mukhtar, a lecturer at the University of the Punjab in Lahore, who discovered that her son, Mohd Rohan, had been born with a life-threatening heart ailment said that, “How does an average Pakistani reach the NSA who sits in Islamabad? It was far easier to reach Mrs Swaraj on Twitter. She has been like an angel for my child,” Mukhtar and her husband, Mohd Faisal Javed, an IT engineer, have been in India for the past three months as four-month-old Rohan has undergone a surgery at Jaypee Hospital.

Mukhtar also said that, “Cardiac surgery facilities are limited in Pakistan. I ran a small campaign on Twitter and overnight Swaraj approved our visas. We can’t thank her enough.”


From the ward at the same hospital, Shazia Munir from Sheikhupura near Lahore, said the “Indian government had been more responsive to her visa plea than the Pakistani government. I came with my four-year-old son, Abdul Sboor, on November 15 to India.”

“We applied for permission to the Pakistani authorities for the visas but nothing came by. But the Indian government reacted quickly and issued us visas to come here,” His mother said “It was a close call. We had to get him here quickly. He had undergone a surgery in Lahore too, but it was not entirely successful.”

Swaraj has been quick to respond to such requests on so many occasions that the Pakistani families needing of health services and they know to reach to Sushma at right time and such people opened their social media accounts for this purpose.

On Tuesday, another Pakistani family appealed to Swaraj on Twitter to grant visas for the heart surgery of five-year-old Nabeela Rashid. Much to the family’s relief the minister responded with a nod saying, “I am sorry the child is suffering so much. We will issue the visa immediately.”

Dr Rajesh Sharma, director of Paediatric Cardiac Surgery at Noida’s Jaypee Hospital, said that Pakistani patients have been coming to India for long, but visa conditions in the past six months have posed some problems. It was on Sharma’s recommendation that visas were issued to Rashid’s family as the child urgently requires surgery. “It is commendable on the part of our minister to intervene in such cases where children are critical and time is short,” he said.

Sharma said, “there are lack of cardiac health care facilities in Pakistan and many children are at times critical and hence their families prefer to rush here. They send us emails with medical reports and we study the case to issue recommendation letters, which these families put on Twitter to reach out to our foreign minister. Sometimes we also wrote to the Indian Embassy to expedite the visas if the child is critical,”

Sharma said, ” Heart ailments among Pakistani children range from a hole in the heart to wrong connections in heart chamber and other complex issues, often requiring multiple surgeries.

Sources : Economic Times



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