You know it’s India-Pakistan when… (The sad case of Idrees Alam, ‘The Nowhere Man’)

Kanpur: Idrees (left) shares a laugh with K. M. Yadav of IPFSA...but...

Kanpur: Idrees (left) shares a laugh with K. M. Yadav of IPFSA…but…

My article in Aman ki Asha today, re-posted here with links and more photos/documents. I’ve since been informed that Idrees is living in the compound of Police Administration (Police Line), Kanpur, under constant surveillance by two officers. He last communicated with his family over a year ago. 

You know it’s India-Pakistan when… overstaying a 15-day visa after a family tragedy leads to ten years in prison and a man’s continued 13-year separation from his wife and four sons .

Idris Alam - Mahesh Pandey

…but his eyes reflect the bleakness of his existence without hope, without family. Photos: Mahesh Pandey

By Beena Sarwar

The case of Mohammad Idrees Alam is a prime example of how people suffer due to the bureaucratic wrangling between India and Pakistan.

Stuck in India, he has been unable to meet his wife and four children in Pakistan for the last 13 years. Pakistan and India both refuse to verify his citizenship. He is, as the BBC termed it in a radio report of Oct 22, 2012, ‘The Nowhere Man’.

Originally an Indian citizen, he went to Pakistan in 1986 to visit relatives. While there, he got married and opted to stay on, obtaining Pakistani citizenship. In 1999, his father Ahmed Jan in Kanpur became seriously ill and in May, Idrees went to India on a 15-day visa. His father passed away, and Idrees, embroiled in last rites and legalities, overstayed his visa by a couple of months.
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Pakistani-Americans Await Changes to India’s Discriminatory Visa Rules

New York-based Indo-Pak couple Ibrahim and Pramilla Malick: People connect in a heartwarming way but both countries try their best to keep us apart.

My report for IPS published on Feb 16, 2012; it’s not on the website anymore due to technical changes so I’m posting the unedited piece below:

Pakistani-Americans await changes to India’s discriminatory visa rules

By Beena Sarwar

BOSTON: India and Pakistan have agreed to ease visa restrictions on each other’s citizens – but until that actually happens, American citizens with dual Pakistani nationality will continue to face what they allege is discrimination by the Indian visa authorities. Continue reading

US visa weirdness

Visa delayed was visa (virtually) denied, in the case of Dr Umar Saif, who missed the conference at MIT where he was being honoured as a TR35 winner

Not that other countries don’t have increasingly stringent visa laws, but as Jason Pontin said “I’m not looking to those countries for standards and openness but to the US”. The quote ended up not being used in the final version of the report I did for the new web publication Latitude NewsVisa void perplexes Pakistanis, which could have been titled ‘Visa delayed is visa (virtually) denied’, which is the case when you can’t make it to a meeting or a conference because of the delay, as in the case of Dr Umar Saif… Of course, there are security concerns, and things are getting better, thanks to the efforts of many organisations working with the State Department, but the uncertainty continues. Read more

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