Swaraj’s Master Stroke

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is a seasoned politician and an important member of the Narendra Modi cabinet. She is well aware of her duties and responsibilities as the head of the External Affairs Ministry. Recently, Swaraj has proved that she is an excellent diplomat too.
Earlier this week, the Indian minister sent a strong message to neighbouring Pakistan in a tweet, saying that the ‘Pakistan occupied Kashmir’ (PoK) is an integral part of India. She issued such a statement after Osama Ali, a student from PoK seeking treatment in India for a liver tumour, claimed that Sartaj Aziz, the Adviser to the Pak PM on Foreign Affairs, had refused to write to the Indian High Commission for his medical visa. Ali, a resident of Rawlakot, needs the visa as he wants to visit a hospital in the Indian capital of New Delhi for medical purposes. He requested Aziz to help him get the Indian visa as Swaraj had announced that Pakistani nationals, seeking medical treatment in India, would be issued visas only on the recommendation of Aziz or the Pak Foreign Affairs Ministry. She had assured Pakistani patients that they would receive Indian visas immediately, if the Pak national security adviser recommended them.

However, Swaraj has taken a completely different stand on Ali’s case. She said that Ali would soon receive a medical visa without Aziz’s recommendation because PoK is an integral part of India. “PoK is an integral part of India. Pakistan has illegally occupied it. We are giving him visa. No letter required,” she added in the tweet. The Indian minister also said that the Modi government even asked the Delhi-based private hospital to treat Ali who needs a liver transplant.
Although Swaraj clearly mentioned in her latest tweet that Ali does not need any letter from Islamabad, she made it clear that rules for Pakistani nationals (asking for medical visas) would remain the same. Taking swipe at Pakistan, she said it was unfortunate that Pak Foreign Affairs Ministry had turned down the Rawalakot family’s plea for a letter from Aziz to the Indian High Commission so that the 24-year-old PoK resident could not travel to India for treatment.

Earlier, Swaraj had hit out at Islamabad when the Nawaz Sharif government announced that it would declare Gilgit-Baltistan (in PoK) as a new province. She rejected Pakistan’s move, stressing: “The Indian government is committed to a resolution by both Houses of Parliament that says the whole of Kashmir belongs to India.”

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