With India and Pakistan going through yet another phase of strained diplomatic ties, it appears that Pakistani patients are not being issued visas to come to India for treatment.
According to a report in the Indian Express, Indian hospitals that get a large number of patients from Pakistan have said that the number has dropped in the last two months.
An official at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital told IE that the numbers of Pakistani patients visiting their hospital has come down to single digits as compared to 30-40 patients per month.
"Initially patients were calling up, asking for help in getting visas but now even that has reduced as the reality sinks in there. This has been the case since the Jadhav issue," the official said.
The official was referring to Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national who has been sentenced to death in Pakistan on charges of spying for India. India has demanded consular access to Jadhav 16 times, only to be have its request denied by Pakistan every time.
The IE report notes how a Pakistani resident had applied for an Indian visa for his father, who is suffering from cirrhosis, in March end. However, he still hasn't received his visa. "Usually the visa takes three weeks and it has already been much more than that," he said.
Meanwhile, nearly 250 activists, journalists, lawyers, filmmakers, students and prominent personalities from India and Pakistan have come together to seek peace across the border. In a resolution that they have released together, they want "both governments and their security establishments to take all steps possible towards improving relations."
The statement said that the dialogue between the two countries has been interrupted whenever some form of disruption — ranging from "jingoistic statements to militant attacks" — takes place. Therefore, it said, the countries should engage in "uninterrupted" dialogue.
An article in Mint notes that the number of medical visas issued to Pakistani patients in 2015-16 stood at a measly 1,921. In comparison, Bangladeshi patients received 58,360 visas and patients from Afghanistan received 29,492 visas.
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