With thaw in relations between India and Pakistan, there is a hope of better India-Pakistan ties, especially for some 356 brides from Pakistan who are awaiting Indian citizenship after their marriage to Indian grooms. Officials in Uttar Pradesh Government admit that there might several such women from Pakistan who are married to Indians but staying illegally here. However, the official the figure is 356 – where Pakistani brides have sought Indian citizenship after their marriage to Indian men. Almost all the districts have Pakistani brides but Aligarh has officially 42 women who are craving for Indian passport. “In majority of these cases, we have sent the initial report to the Ministry of External Affairs. The Union Government has to take a call,” AK Sarin, an official in the Department for Home Affairs said.
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After recent meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, there is a hope among the family members having brides from Pakistan that relations between two countries will improve. “There seems sincerity between Indian and Pakistan to resolve issues and promote personal relations. If this happens, the Pakistani women married to Indian men could get Indian citizenship very soon,” Parvez Rehman Siddiqui, a trader said.
“We have high hopes from Modi. His initiative to invite SAARC leaders to attend his swearing-in ceremony was commendable,” he said adding, “It is a known fact that during BJP regime India and Pakistan always enjoy good relations.” Parevez Rehman Siddiqui’s bhabi Shama is from Karachi in Pakistan. The marriage took place in 2004 and since then, they are running from pillar to post to get Indian citizenship for Shama. She now lives on long-term visa that needs to be renewed every three years.
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What makes these families hopeful that is that in 2005 over 3000 families in Kutch, Gujarat gained Indian citizenship, after Indian Government decided that Pakistani Hindus who had lived in these areas for over five years could get Indian citizenship. In that region also Pakistani girls get married to Indian men. The reason is different. People driven by poverty opt to switch over to the Indian side of the border and majority of them are Hindus.
People believe Modi played a crucial role in this. “The order was Hindu specific but with thaw in relations between two countries both India and Pakistan should grant visas to bonafide brides in their sides,” Pervze said. Anwar Hussain, an OSD of lawmaker in Uttar Pradesh’s Koli constituency Zameerulla married Rehana of Faiz Begh of Pakistan. Rehana is hopeful that her application of Indian cictizenship would be accepted post-Sharif visit.
“It is nice to see two Prime Ministers shaking hands … the ice will melt, and soon I will be officially an Indian citizen. Inshaallah!” she said.