Need Pakistan government to vet medical visas: India

New Delhi: Days after Pakistan raised the issue, India on Wednesday clarified that it has not stopped giving medical visas to Pakistani nationals, but has asked that such requests be vetted at the top level.

In reply to a question on the issue, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was getting a lot of mails and requests on social media from patients in Pakistan for medical visas.

“We have not stopped medical visas…” Baglay said.

“In previous years, thousands of medical visas have been issued to Pakistani citizens. What has happened is the External Affairs Minister herself was receiving these requests addressed to her,” Baglay said. Sushma is active on social media in addressing problems faces by Indians abroad.

“She was receiving requests on email and social media. In order to ascertain that these are genuine requests we have suggested that their Foreign Minister or Foreign Affairs Advisor gives a recommendation letter,” he said.

“On social media it is difficult to ascertain if the request is genuine. If the letter comes, we will immediately issue a visa, but we need recommendation from the Pakistan government,” the spokesperson said.

On Saturday, Pakistani media reported that thousands of Pakistanis seeking treatment for liver and heart-related ailments at major hospitals in New Delhi, Chennai and other Indian cities have been affected due to non-issuance of medical visas.

“India has made it impossible for Pakistanis to get medical visas,” an official was quoted as saying by Geo News.

It said that Pakistan summoned Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale and expressed concern over the issue.

However, there was no official confirmation of the meeting by India.