Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Love knows no borders...

Pakistani artist Masooma married Sumedh, a Keralite (pic: Outlook)
I recently read Ilmana Fasih’s post on how difficult it is for her to get a visa to India and how her soul shudders with fear when she has to fill up the visa form. Ilmana is an (ex)-Indian married to a Pakistani.
The link to her post had been sent to us by a reader probably as proof of how difficult it is for Pakistanis (even ex-Indians) to get a visa to India. Much as I hate to say this, the reverse is equally true too.
Indo-Pak marriages can be tricky in more ways than one and I admire those who take the plunge despite the many odds. I find cold-blooded comments, aimed at Indians married in Pakistan or Pakistanis married in India, asking women to accept their “fate” because they “chose” to marry a Pakistani or an Indian -- cruel.

This is what a reader had to say after reading about Ilmana: When you make a choice to become part of a country that actively harms your motherland you should accept the consequences with good grace. Instead you are whining that you are not getting special treatment because you went to a fancy medical school in Delhi or your parents are big professors in Delhi and so on. You mean to say that you are more exempt from scrutiny than an ordinary ill-educated Pakistani laborer? Obviously you do. At least you picked a proper feudal country to give your allegiance to.”

A comment on 80-year-old Zainab, who had an unfortunate marriage in Pakistan and wanted to return to India after her divorce: 
She is western educated and intelligent. So political naivety is inexcusable... India and Pakistan are like matter and anti-matter. Pakistan's existence is based on negative identity of India's failure. India, of course, can deal with an ideological aberration like Pakistan and move on since 'political India' existed for 1000s of years. So by discarding Indian citizenship and adopting Pakistani citizenship Zainab rejected the idea of India. Since Pakistan is an exhaustive negation of the idea of India she definitely deserves what she got and the only thing we can say is hard luck!
Varun met Wasiqa on a US campus (pic: Outlook)
Shortly after the much-publicised Sania-Shoaib marriage, who by virtue of being a celeb-couple gets a multiple-entry visa to each other's country, I spoke to two Pakistanis who married Indians despite being very aware of the difficulties involved -- which perhaps Zainab and Ilmana could not foresee decades ago. 
"Everyone in their right minds knows that an Indo-Pakistan marriage can be a logistical nightmare and wouldn't wish that for their child. It's a very strong political divide. Though for the couples concerned, the marriage and the move is a natural enough thing to do if you care for each other…for society at large it's an act of insanity," Sara (name changed) said.
Sara met her husband "whose parents are fairly liberal people with little information about or bias against Pakistanis" on a visit to India. Still it was not an easy decision. "My parents are originally from India, so it was too much of a reversal of history for them, that I would move back. They have 'explained away' India from their minds for psychological reasons and to hear of me moving back, of course, filled them with trepidation," she said.
Apart from Indian and Pakistani society not accepting such marriages and landlords refusing to rent out homes to such couples, it is always the wife who has to move to her spouse's country. "In all Indo-Pakistan marriages, the men, whether Indian or Pakistani, are the ones who have a harder time getting visas. So the women end up moving to the other country," she said.
However, having taken the plunge Sara sees her husband and herself as "cultural ambassadors". "Me marrying an Indian or him marrying a Pakistani is an act of courage and of huge historical relevance – much more important than any ministerial exchange, wouldn't you think?" she added.
Nida (name changed) who has made India her home, too, said: "I have set up my home and have great friends here. For three months at a time, I can forget that my status is temporary. But then at the end of three months, I have to pull out my ticket and passport and leave. On the other hand if I apply for a resident permit, I can't leave at all. Why should it have to be this or that?"
"I just want this (Indo-Pakistan relations) to become better. We function day-to-day with blinders on because it's too tough a situation to get bogged down by. But there has to be some letting go and relaxation," Nida said.
Cross-border marriages may be an act of insanity, still three cheers for those who are giving love a chance!

22 comments:

  1. The matter of visa is very problematic. There are many cases where former citizens of Pakistan (or India) have trouble visit the country of their spouse who may have affliation with their homeland.

    Marriages, births, deaths and family reunions have been put in limbo. Browse or go to indiamike.com and you'll find stories similar to above. The media on both sides of the border do a poor job of highlighting the arcane rules and agendas of the mission of both countries.

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  2. The VISA issues are a hassle in many many countries and not just between India and Pakistan. So while it does make for good copy and an interesting read, we should look at it in context of other VISA related hassles. Getting a US visa after getting married is also filled with many hoops and what not. There are added problems of not being able to move out of the country if you have applied and have been approved for a green card but havent actually obtained one yet.
    Added to the fact that there are years of waiting to get the card after approval.

    Getting other VISAs is also just as much of a hassle and it is part and parcel of choosing to live outside your own borders.

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    Replies
    1. Shruti, you miss the point here. This specific visa issue has nothing to do with Immigration Policy as in the US; it has everything to do with the relationship between the two countries and their mutual distrust of one another. Perhaps you are too young and were born much after the decades of madness. I personally have a friend from Bombay, married to a Pakistani, and I remember him relaying to me the utter rigmarole to first get the visa into India, and then while staying what they were expected to do.

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    2. Well the other choice is pakistan too...we don't want any demographic change and further partition of india.

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  3. Great blog. Very unfortunate that these couples have to go through all of this hostility and hurdles just because they are from other side of the border. This is when our policy makers need to stop and reflect what they have created and where they are going.

    On a separate note, you should check these podcasts (not sure if you already have). It's offer some truth on a muddled and mysterious face of pakistan in the eye of Americans and Indian:
    http://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/podcast-another-pakistan-two-hour-version

    -Raza

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  4. Shruti,

    That may be the case but at least you can easily get back to your country of origin without any hassle. The India - Pakistan thing takes these visa issues to a completely new level. If you have a European passport and are born and brought up in Europe to Pakistani parents it is extremely difficult to get a visit visa for India and the same vice versa although European citizens of Indian heritage don't have as much of a difficult time getting a Pak visa but still pretty hard.

    It's this sort of pettiness that needs to be resolved. Moving from India to the US or EU is much much easier than moving from India to Pakistan and vice versa. Not only for you but also for your children.

    The babus of Delhi and Islamabad are legendary, this behaviour carries out to various embassies across the globe.

    A

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  5. I know the visa situation is bad but dont understand why fatima fasih was expecting special treatment just because she is Indian born and bred in New Delhi with DU profs as parents... Its unfair for her to event expect to be treated differently from her other fellow pakistanis

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  6. Thanks all for the comments.

    Raza, thanks for the link.

    A, I agree.

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  7. I DONT AGREE WITH THOSE WHO SAYING THAT IF HEATRS MEETS BORDER IS NOT ISSUE..... BUT ISSUE IS RELIGION ..A MUSLIM GIRL HOW CAN MARRIED WITH A HINDO MAN ? ? ? THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE.....

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    Replies
    1. pyaar mein sab possible hain janoo...If there s a god he would side with ppl who love and not divide :D

      Indian

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    2. if you are a person who is not comfortable about who you are ,then you want the CONFIRMATION of the whole world and you would expect them to be become like you.

      But if u accept urself, then u wont care what others are and I m sure you wont try to change d other person and u ll be acceptive of the other ppl as well and u will find TRUE LOVE.

      The real issue lies in self ACCEPTANCE and NOT self-RIGHTEOUSNESS

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  8. i love a gal in kohat, peshawar and it is mutual. but again the same problem. her parents. added more to the misery, gettin a visa. everythin was fine wen 1 fine day she was cryin on fone, call ended and since den d fone is off. i am so tensed and worried.
    totally confused. desperatel runnin here n dere for help.

    guys plz pray for me. hamid ansari, mumbai india

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    Replies
    1. i want to help u,cn i get ur cntact

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    2. Best Wishes hamid... Any latest update???

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    3. I AM AN INDIAN GIRL FROM LUCKNOW U.P AND WANT TO MARRY A GUY FROM PAKISTAN HE IS MY RELATIVE ALSO...AMD IS PRESENTLY WORK IN SHARJAH (U.A.E) So can anybody tell me the procedure of marriage....and how can i get nationality of pak...or nationality of pak is necessary ?

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  9. NOTaselfrighteousundiMarch 10, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    "Cross-border marriages may be an act of insanity, still three cheers for those who are giving love a chance!"

    This coming from the ambassadors of hate, VAH what hypocrisy. One minute you guys hate on Pakistanis non stop and the next minute your applauding people for taking the plunge and going for a indo-Pak marriage. Confused much?

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  14. The examples given are all Pakistani women who have married Indian men. Show me an example where a Hindu women has married a Pakistani Muslim man. They never allow their daughters to marry Pakistani men. In one case I know of, the mother threatened her daughter with suicide if she married a Pakistani. Then they go about calling Pakistanis backward. Typical hypocrisy. Enough if this naivety and stupidity.

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  15. can you please help me i am deeply loved with Pakistani girl how i will get permanent visa to her for staying in india it is possible to get visa to her my father and mother refusing to marry her due to indo pak relations matter


    please help me asap i am waiting for your reply we both r muslims

    ReplyDelete