Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Regaining Citizenship: A traumatic experience

Hostility between India and Pakistan is on wane. Lawmakers on both sides are compelled by their own people to bury their congenital botheration. Of all these people, Gulf expatriates are most vociferous to make that happen and there is a reason for this.

In Gulf countries, both Indians and Pakistanis have been living in co-existence over few decades. Now, third generation of Indian and Pakistani nationalities is born, raised and working in Gulf. Their contact with respective motherland that began with 1-month school vacation is now restricted to gyrating on remix version of bollywood songs or eating Pakistani Kebabs.

The pace at which Indian and Pakistanis are being blended in neutral land is also reflected at increasing number of marital knots. Milieu of cosmopolitan social life in Dubai does not isolate them with the rest of the crowd. So is the case with local residency laws that consider both on par. Everything goes well as long as they stay in Gulf. However, if they were to visit in-laws, bureaucracy with archaic laws will stand in a big way. If securing visa is an ordeal, stringent conditions that come with it are nothing less than that of a humiliation. Visa restricts visit to a specific city and makes mandatory for visitor to report to police station once a week. In order to avoid this ordeal, some spouses have relinquished their original nationality and have opted for that of spouse. However, little did they realize that in their very own country, they could be treated as pariah.

One such story made me realize the importance of citizenship rights. This educated lady who was well settled in her job in dubai married Pakistani national and surrendered her Indian nationality to become Pakistani citizen. Unfortunately, marriage did not last and she wanted to revert to her original nationality. What followed was a pathetic saga of survival of a single woman caught in the web of bureaucracy. After numerous attempts at higher echelons at home and foreign ministry, she was told that only way to redeem her nationality was to secure an Indian visa, extend it over and over again so as to reside uninterrupted for 5 years. Only then, her request for Indian citizenship be considered. Imagine leaving Gulf- her only place of existence and to start life all over again in a country that is alien in all forms except her passport identity. During this period, she may have to face the ordeal of extending the validity of her Pakistani passport at the mercy of Pakistan High commission. I do not know if during these five years, she would be asked to report to police station every week.

No one knows when India Pakistan relations will be normalized like any other nations. However, until then, people who tie their matrimony with nationalities across the border must think hard before surrendering their respective citizenship.


Blogger Thunderbolt said...

Raw deal !!!

One could only hope things were a little different. Well its like hanging between two biplanes some 30 K feet high hoping for the best ride without being sheared bipartite !! Marriages are made in heaven may be, but little do some people know its gonna come back with rancour and snatch away their rights to live it peacefully on earth, at a place once you used to call home !!! Unless the divested couple (India & Paksitan) work out their differences, the future of these people sure is danglin' on a dad-burned string !!!! Nobody's gonna like that picture very much !

1:06 PM  

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