Sushma Swaraj Has An Independence Day Gift For Pakistani Patients

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj's announcement comes as a relief for patients who had not been unable to qualify for medical visa because former foreign minister Sartaj Aziz wouldn't give them the recommendation letter that New Delhi had demanded.

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Sushma Swaraj Has An Independence Day Gift For Pakistani Patients

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said India will grant medical visa to Pak nationals in bonafide cases

NEW DELHI:  In a goodwill gesture, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said New Delhi will give medical visa for Pakistani patients whose requests were pending with the Indian government. The announcement comes as a relief for patients who had not been unable to qualify for the visa because former foreign minister Sartaj Aziz wouldn't give them the recommendation letter that New Delhi had demanded.

Ms Swaraj had introduced the condition to qualify for a medical visa over three months ago after her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz did not show even "courtesy to acknowledge" her request for a visa for the mother of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former naval officer sentenced to death in Pakistan earlier this year.

Mr Aziz never did give a recommendation letter and Pakistani patients would often turn to the foreign minister to waive the condition. To one cancer patient, the Foreign Minister said she saw no reason why Mr Aziz should hesitate give his "recommendation for nationals of his own country".

"On the auspicious occasion of India's Independence day', Ms Swaraj tweeted on Tuesday, New Delhi would grant medical visa in all bonafide cases pending with the Indian government.
  Mr Sartaj Aziz is no longer the Pakistan PM's foreign office advisor as he has been appointed as the deputy chairman of the planning commission. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, 58, was sworn-in as Pakistan's 18th prime minister on August 1 after the Supreme Court disqualified the incumbent Nawaz Sharif for dishonesty following the Panama papers scandal.

A number of Pakistanis travel to India for medical treatment - several hospitals have reported receiving as many as 500 patients a month. But the medical visa process has slowed down after a Pakistani military court sentenced Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav to death on allegations of espionage.

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It isn't that Ms Swaraj turned down every request that came her way.

When a Pakistani man requested for an exemption from this condition for his two and a half-month-old infant suffering from a heart disease, Ms Swaraj did make an exception and told the father that his "child will not suffer". Just a few days earlier, the minister again set aside the condition for a Pakistani woman who approached her on twitter.

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