India on Friday issued a medical visa to another Pakistani national following a promise made by the Ministry of External Affairs on Independence Day. “Amna – We have approved medical visa for your father Mr Shamim Ahmed,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted in response to a request from one Amna Shamim through the Twitter handle of Karachi’s Muhammad Talha. Shamim also posted a reference letter dated October 9 from a doctor in Sri Ganga Ram Hospital who stated that the patient was being considered for a liver transplant.
On Independence Day, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had announced that India would provide medical visas to all bonafide 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 Prime Minister’s 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 such a letter violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country. However, a patient from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, seeking treatment in New Delhi for liver tumour, was given a visa on July 18. Sushma 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”. Since August 15, however, Pakistani nationals seeking medical treatment have not been denied visas.