Google ad kindles hope for easier Indo-Pakistan travel

Published on : Saturday, November 16, 2013

Indo-Pakistan travelThe latest advertisement by Google depicts two elderly friends reuniting for the first time after the partition of India and Pakistan. If only it were that simple in reality.



For several people across the border, this is a dream that might just remain unrealised thanks to the stringent visa regulations both countries impose on one another, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.



Even though both countries have moved forward by introducing a liberalised visa regime, which includes visa on arrival for senior citizens, the truth is that it remains quite a task for the common citizen.


Take 98-year-old Sardar Mohammed Habib Khan, a former Pakistani government official, for example. Sardar hails from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and worked as a forest official in Srinagar and Baramulla in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1940s. He had applied to visit the cities more than three times but had experienced no luck.



“I have such fond memories of Dehradun because that is where I was trained to be a forest official,” said Sardar.


Sardar’s son said: “But now at the ripe old age of 98, it’s almost impossible for my father to travel.” It is wishes like these that seem impossible to grant.


For Indians with roots in Pakistan, there is a certain wistfulness that creeps in every time they talk about the city in which they were born.


“I find it ironic that I can travel the world over but can’t visit Lahore without someone standing surety for me. I don’t know anyone in Pakistan today but want to visit,” says 87-year-old Visharda Dhawal who moved to India during the partition.



Ashraf J Qazi, former Pakistani High Commissioner to India, emphasised on the
need for easier visa regimes.



“People-to-people contacts are necessary otherwise we will live in ignorance.


While the elite, business people, students, journalists and others get to visit, people from all classes should get a chance,” Ashraf said.

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