How Sushma Swaraj Brings Hope to Pakistani Families Needing Medical Help
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is known to be active on social media when it comes to cries for help, whether it is from an Indian stranded in a crisis-torn area or on a ship. Her promptness extends to not just Indians but also foreign nationals seeking aid.
During this week, she granted medical visas to three Pakistani nationals, including one-year-old Shireen Shiraz who requires an open heart surgery, and Neelma Ghafar, a woman seeking kidney treatment.
Ghafar’s husband, Gaffar Khan, approached Swaraj on Oct. 11, saying his wife is on dialysis.
@SushmaSwaraj respected medam we are in hospital now my wife neelma ghaffar is on last stage plz medam save my family grant visa
— Ghaffar KHan (@Ghaffarkhanj) October 11, 2017
Swaraj responded shortly, saying the patient would be given a visa to come to India.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) October 11, 2017
The same day, she also assured medical visa to a man in need of a liver transplant after Pakistani citizen Abbas, who describes himself as a social activist on his Twitter handle, approached her. “We have approved the visa request for liver transplant surgery of your uncle Mr Azhar Hussain in India,” Swaraj tweeted.
The posts came a day after she had promised help to Shireen in response to a tweet by her Hira Shiraz, who said: “Ma’am Sushma Swaraj this is humble request to approve our pending visa request of my 1year daughter for her open heart surgery.”
Swaraj posted on Oct. 10: “We are giving visa for the open heart surgery of your one year old daughter Shireen Shiraz in India.”
So far this month, India has approved medical visas to five Pakistanis seeking urgent medical treatment in India.
These are just the latest in a string of instances where the Indian politician used her “Twitter diplomacy” to come to the help of Pakistani people looking for medical visas.
On Oct. 9, the minister assured a medical visa for a Pakistani man who needed a liver transplant. The man’s son Hamid Ashraf had written to her on Twitter: “@SushmaSwaraj Respected mam please help us my father need liver trnsplant his condtion is vry bad please issue the visa i request u mam pls (sic).”
Swaraj responded to Hamid Ali Ashraf: “Yes, we are granting visa for your father’s liver transplant surgery in India.”
Swaraj’s acts of generosity have resulted in Twitter users calling her a “masiha” for the Pakistani people.
Madam Minister, you are Masiha for Pakistani people. God Bless you.
— Shakil Ahmed. (@shakilahmed2000) October 9, 2017
A user with the handle @Waqas_amjad also posted on one occasion: “Good thanks Alot..This is a great gesture by india..We Pakistani Give u huge applause on it. Stay Blessed (sic).”
The promptness with which Swaraj responds to these pleas of help from across the border and other countries also wows people. The veteran politician replies hours after a request is made on the social media platform, and sometimes even earlier. People also get touched by her gestures in which she shows a personal touch, either by calling the person in first name, or adding words of concern.
Last week, Swaraj said she will pray for the health of a three-year-old girl from Lahore when her father Uzair Humayun sought help from the Indian government on Twitter. “We are issuing visa for the open heart surgery of your three-year-old daughter in India. We also pray for her speedy recovery here,” Swaraj said in her tweet.
She had responded in a similar positive way when Noorma Habib wrote to her about her father’s kidney transplant. “Yes, Noorma. We are allowing visa for the liver transplant of your father in India. We wish him a successful surgery and a long life,” Swaraj tweeted.
People desperate for life-saving medical aid spare no efforts in revealing their despair. While many talk about their tweet being their last hope, others disclose personal accounts of agony.
In September-end this year, Maha Shoaib got a share of Swaraj’s generosity. Shoaib, 7, was suffering from 60 per cent heart blockage and could not even go to school. Her mother Nida Shoaib reached out to Swaraj, invoking Maa Durga and Navaratri.
respected @SushmaSwaraj happy durga puja n navratri mam
— nida shoaib (@nidashoaib1) September 21, 2017
respected @SushmaSwaraj mam on this auspicious day please allow us to come there for her life threatning surgery mam maha shoaib is jush 7
— nida shoaib (@nidashoaib1) September 21, 2017
Shoaib also shared a photo of her child and a letter from an Indian doctor requesting visa on her behalf.
After the visa was issued, the 7-year old girl posted a video thanking Swaraj, and expressing her love for the minister and for India.
— nida shoaib (@nidashoaib1) September 27, 2017
Swaraj’s involvement in granting medical visas has only been on the rise since she took over the portfolio after the Narendra Modi government came into power in May 2014. She had, in fact, on the occasion of the Independence Day this year tweeted: “On the auspicious occasion of India’s Independence day, we will grant medical visa in all bonafide cases pending with us. @IndiainPakistan.”