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Indo-Pak animosity plays havoc with people
By H Anjum

Akram, an eight-year-old boy, does not want to go back to Pakistan. He wants to stay put in Ahmedabad where his maternal relatives including his maternal grandfather are based. Akram says that he hates Pakistan. 

This child does not quite know the intricacies of Indo-Pak animosity. He hasnít even heard the name of the dreaded ISI. He does not know Kashmir and bloodshed that is part of normal life there for more than a decade. Akram enjoys the atmosphere in Ahmedabad and even Delhi where some of his maternal relatives live in the Walled City.

He was forced to board the Samjhauta Express, the only railway connection between the two nations that are always at loggerhead with each other. His grandpa wept inconsolably as he saw his grandson being forced to leave for Pakistan. He will not be able to see him for some more time. The child too wept and he even tried to pull himself out of the overcrowded train. 

Ashraf, a lawyer in Ahmedabad sessions court married his daughter to a boy in Karachi five years ago. It was not his love for Pakistan that he gave his daughter there; he is not bothered at all about that country. But the greatest problem with him is that most of his relatives migrated to Pakistan just after Partition like so many other families. His sister was also married to a Karachi-based businessman. 

His sister asked for his daughter who had just completed her law education. He flatly refused although she had asked for his daughter Nusrat for her only son, Shahid. But he refused and did not intend to send his daughter to an alien land. But his sister persisted and sent her husband to Ahmadabad to ask for his daughter. She told him that my brother has refused me but I am sure he and his wife will not refuse when they see you. He was forced to give in. Not only his brother in law refused to go back till he was assured, but his sister also refused to see her husband till he returned with the assurance.

He was simply refusing due to the political distance between Ahmedabad and Karachi. He was assured by his brother-in-law that Karachi is not that much far and it takes just a few minutes to fly from Karachi to Mumbai. He gave in. And hence began the agony. The agony that has continued so far. 

First year he could see his daughter once. For that purpose he had to stand in the queue for several days in Mumbai. That was five years back when Pakistani Consulate was functioning in Mumbai. From the next year he had to travel all the way to Delhi to get a visa for Pakistan. It is more than just torture to get visa for Pakistan, complains Ashraf. He says that the frequency started coming down. And this time he saw his daughter only after two whole years. 

This is not the only thing. If one travels to Pakistan by plane it is a bit OK. But the train route is a journey through hell and fire. Frisking, checking, rechecking at Atari, the last station on the Indian side and Wagha, the railway station on the other side of the border. 

The long wait at Atari sometimes prolongs to twenty-four hours. It takes seven to eight hours at least in normal course. Harassment by the cops on both sides of the border is no strange thing. They can ask for any amount from you, he says, and if you are not prepared to pay, believe him your ordeal has just begun. 

As if all this was not enough, he finds his daughter disillusioned with her marriage. His daughter Nusrat who was in the capital on her way back to Pakistan with her son, is also a distressed lady. She has not been able to adjust with her in-laws. It is impossible for you to adjust with Pakistanis, she complains. They are rude, and do not care for women and their sentiments. Pakistan is totally different from our Indian society, says Nusrat who is now a Pakistani citizen. Men do not care for your views. Your educational qualification is of no use for them. They are obsessed with money. 

She is just carrying on with her marriage. She is not satisfied. Neither is her father. Her son does not want to live in Pakistan. He loves the Indian cricket team, watches Indian movies and dances to Indian tunes.

It is not the case with Akram, Ashraf and Nusrat alone. Every other Indian family who has married its daughter in Pakistan is facing these problems. They cry and do not find a solution. They cannot wish their Pakistani relatives away. They have to maintain relations.

People like them pray all the time for the normalization of relations between the two warring nations. Only normalization of relation could give them a little hope. 

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