No Pak letter needed for PoK man’s medical visa as region part of India: Sushma
India will give medical visa to a man from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) without a request letter from Islamabad, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday, reiterating that the disputed region “is an integral part of India”.
Swaraj’s announcement came in response to a plea by a 24-year-old PoK resident, Osama Ali, who appealed to the minister to waive the request letter from Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistan prime minister’s advisor on foreign affairs.
Ali, who had been diagnosed with a tumour in the liver, is seeking medical treatment at a private hospital in Delhi.
“PoK is an integral part of India. Pakistan has illegally occupied it. We are giving him visa. No letter required,” Swaraj said in a tweet, responding to a report in the Indian Express highlighting Ali’s dilemma.
The report quoted Ali’s family as saying that Aziz has refused to write a letter to the Indian government.
PoK, a 13,297-square km area with an estimated population of about four million, is under Pakistan’s control since 1947 but India says it is part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Swaraj’s tweet came amid heightened tensions between the neighbours, especially over rising militancy and civilian protests in Kashmir which India says are orchestrated by Pakistan.
Though India has been giving medical visa to people from Pakistan, on July 10, Swaraj put out a series of tweets saying the Indian government needs Aziz’s “recommendation for the grant of medical visa to Pakistan nationals”.
The precondition was seen as a retaliation to Islamabad’s refusal to grant visa to the mother of Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer sentenced to death on espionage charges.
“We also have a visa application pending for an Indian national Mrs.Avantika Jadhav who wants to meet her son in Pakistan against whom they have pronounced a death sentence,” Swaraj wrote.
Expressing “sympathies for all Pakistan nationals seeking medical visa for their treatment in India,” Swaraj said: “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.”