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Families close to being split by legal hassles in Pakistan

Families close to being split by legal hassles in Pakistan

By Snehi Suryash

118 Indian nationals stuck in Pakistan due to the closure of the country’s frontiers will head back home. They will be brought back through the Wagah border crossing on Monday (today).

The Government of Pakistan has intimated to the Indian Embassy in Islamabad the scheduled return of the Indian citizens on August 10. The embassy had requested the government to make arrangements for the stranded Indian nationals’ repatriation to their home country.

They had come to Pakistan to visit their relatives and perform religious rites but got stuck due to lockdown restrictions.

On July 9, the 114 Indian nationals stuck in Pakistan had returned to their homeland via the Wagah bordering crossing. Prior to that 250 Indian nationals stranded in the country were repatriated in June.

Cases of families being split due to the hassles

Two-year-old Arohi Goindhani’s name features in the list of 118 Indian nationals who are expected to return home by crossing the Pakistan border on August 10. But the two year old will not be followed by her mother Reeta.

Reeta is still a Pakistani citizen, who was living in India on a long-term visa (LTV). She had gone to Pakistan on a no-obligation return to India visa granted for brief visits. And now she has been stranded in Pakistan as the borders are closed due to the pandemic.

Her child, who was born in India, is an Indian citizen and Reeta is waiting to get citizenship here.

Now, as the Indian embassy has drawn up a list of 118 Indians for repatriation, technically only her daughter can return. Reeta, who is still a Pakistani citizen, will have to wait.

Even as another batch of Indians is set to cross the border and return home, many are faced with such technical hassles. There are families where minor childrens have Indian citizenship & their mothers are still living on LTVs. So, even as their names feature in the list, the children are too young to go without their mothers.

In some cases the husband & children have Indian citizenship, but may have to leave the woman of the house behind.

Mohamed Raza, a businessman from Delhi, is reluctant to leave. His wife has come on a NORI visa & he and his children are Indian citizens. As his children are very young and will not be able to stay without their mother. Thus, he can not leave them behind either. Raza is worried as his visit visa to Pakistan will expire soon.

Sarika too, who is stranded in Ghotki town of Sindh province, has a similar problem.

Delhi’s Mohamed Saif says

if the repatriation is being arranged on August 10, the formalities will have to be done fast. “Lahore is 1,400km from Karachi, where my family is staying. It may not be possible to reach the border at short notice,” he said. Even his wife is a NORI visa holder who had gone to Pakistan with the kids.

The only hope for them is that the embassy has also collected the names of NORI visa holders to be put up before the Pakistani authorities. It is expected that their reparation will be arranged too. The NORI visa holders are requesting that those with young children should be allowed to keep their kids with them.

Rajesh Jhambia, president of Sindhi-Hindi Panchayat, which is also taking up the stranded persons’ case, said since it is expected that NORI visa holders’ case will also be cleared soon, they must allow their children and other members of families having Indian passport to remain in Pakistan till then.