Deepening the Pakistan-India divide

Published: October 26, 2011

The writer is a professor at LUMS and Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad

Six years ago, while on a speaking tour of nearly 25 schools, colleges and universities across India, I discovered that only a handful of students had ever seen a living, breathing Pakistani. None had heard an academic from across the border speak. A 12-year old school student, who obviously did not know Hindi and Urdu were similar, wondered aloud how a real Pakistani could be speaking their language. For these puzzled students, Pakistanis are alien people belonging to an adversary country, not next-door neighbours.

The numerous misconceptions and misunderstandings I encountered must be still greater today. With pre-1947 family links slowly withering away, the two countries are travelling on separate economic and cultural trajectories. As travel barriers become ever higher, their respective populations are becoming progressively more unfamiliar and estranged from the other.

This is by deliberate design. Not long ago, Indian scientists and professionals participated in conferences in Islamabad, cricket matches drew large numbers into either country and schools occasionally sent their students over to the other side. But now tourist and visitor traffic is a trickle. Both South Asian states share the responsibility. Visas are the obvious control instruments. In principle, technology and ease of travel should have made things easier. Not so. While applying for an Indian visa that would enable me to speak at a conference in Delhi, I was initially pleased to see that I could now apply online instead of the older, cumbersome procedure. But, as it turned out, there is a special form for Pakistanis that demands excruciating, irrelevant minutiae. A technically poor web portal design adds to the frustration.

Why the special treatment for Pakistanis? The Indian establishment says it fears terrorism. But while reasonable caution is understandable, one could have hoped for a sense of proportion and a more reasoned approach. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis who apply are the aged and the infirm, professors and doctors, businessmen and professionals, and the occasional tourist. Armed terrorists from Pakistan have indeed crossed borders. But they have gone by boat, crawled under fences and climbed difficult mountains. To penetrate airports or checkpoints, and cross multiple hurdles, is not the terrorist route. But let’s say that you still somehow put together an application. Thereafter you must present yourself at the Indian High Commission (IHC). For this, you must somehow obtain permission to enter Islamabad’s ‘Red Zone’, the highly fortified diplomatic enclave which houses foreign embassies. Getting past the first security checkpoint, bristling with machine guns placed behind concrete barriers, is no easy task. But, as I recently discovered, the ordeal will have just begun.

As I attempted to enter the IHC building’s visa section, a swarm of Pakistani intelligence agents surrounded me. Their body language was intimidating, their manner offensive. As with other visa applicants, question followed question. They demanded my personal identification, phone numbers, family details, what was to be discussed in the conference that I was to attend, invitation letters and proof of correspondence. All this while sneering at my patriotism. Halfway through this interrogation, I lost patience. If I was spying for India, why on earth would I come for a visa interview? But these uncouth men were executing a political agenda and not open to reason. In their frozen mindset — and that of their masters — India was Pakistan’s enemy number one. Faced with unexpected resistance, the underlings called their superior. Expectedly, he supported his men who, he said, were defending the safety and security of Pakistan. What did Pakistan’s national security have to do with harassing visa applicants? An argument became inevitable. He and his men were unmoved by the fact that their spy institution had spectacularly failed to gather intelligence necessary for protecting the life and property of Pakistani citizens. In fact, it had lost three of its regional headquarters to attacks by religious terrorists and suicide bombers. Home-grown terrorists have killed many more Pakistani soldiers and citizens than were lost in Pakistan-India wars since 1947.

My admission into the building was refused, a violation of my rights as a Pakistani citizen as well as of international law. They won, I lost. They had achieved their goal of keeping a Pakistani from visiting India. The gulf between the countries grew just a tad wider. I do not know how it is from the Indian side. Are the requirements for a visa just as dauntingly obtuse? Do RAW agents harass and insult those Indians applying to the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi for a visa? Let the angry Indian speak up from his side of the wall, as I have from mine.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2011.

Reader Comments (173)

  • Roflcopter
    Oct 26, 2011 - 10:59PM

    It’s good that ISI is keeping eye on people like Hoodbhoy because you can’t trust such people

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  • kiran Mehboob
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:10PM

    Well said…the low IQ level of spies is the main hurdle.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:16PM

    I am sure it is WORSE on the Indian side. But that does not mean I condone the insults the author was made to bear.

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  • antanu g
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:21PM

    sir
    whats so appalling in the episode? have you ever visited US and observed how the green passport holders are treated?i feel instead of writing a column over such matter..you should contribute towards removing the obstacles in the sub continent. rediculing any body will serve no purpose

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  • Parvez
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:24PM

    When someone like you writes in despair. What hope do we have ?
    When I tell my first cousin in Mumbai that one day I’d love come across and meet her. I know it and so does she, that it will not happen. At least not in Mumbai and that is a shame.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:28PM

    We dont care because we dont have to go to Gudhas Pur or Banaras.

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  • Noor Nabi
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:30PM

    This is a very timely article that touches upon the most important thing that needed to narrow the gap between the people of the two countries i.e., people-to-people exchanges. The example cited by the author of harassment at the hands of the Pakistani intelligence agencies is as unsurprising as it is deplorable. The Indian authorities, too, are suffering from an almost irreversible paranoia in granting visas to any applicant with the slightest trace of Pakistani DNA. India’s concerns for its security interests, especially after the horrible Mumbai attack – as well as the conviction of David Headley (aka Dawood Gilani) – are quite valid. But to go to the ultimate extreme and not relying on an interview/verification process in issuing visas to Pakistanis does not do justice to the image of the country. It will bode ill for the two countries if they continue to deny their respective citizens the opportunity to meet each other. Terrorists do not seek visas before they embark on their cross-border expeditions.

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  • usman
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:32PM

    some people never change as is the case with good professor. It is good for us that he is undeterred in his resolve of calling a spade a spade.

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  • Nero
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:32PM

    Sir, I have read your other blogs also and I like reading your articles very much.

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  • indian response.
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:35PM

    As far as Indian side, where few people have Pakistan in mind when they want to travel somewhere. Usually it is for the Sikhs to go to Lahore for their festival, but most ppl from India to be honest have no benefit visiting Pakistan. There is too much insecurity for us Indians. The blasphemy laws don’t help either. I could be just accused by some guy on the street there and be detained as being a minority. To be fair, India does not have that clout like the US has in Pakistan to rescue its citizens. And then there are terror attacks on Indian soil. For all the intentions of peace between two nations, these cant be forgotten. For the common man here in India, his thinking is justifiably, how to make peace while there are terror attacks. Wouldn’t it be better to create conditions for dialogue like controlling state sponsors before we all talk of peace. These are somethings in Indian minds before they even think of extending travel and culture to Pakistan. It is not easy for us to just dump all that.

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  • Hashmi
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:40PM

    Never leave a chance to speak against the agencies. Mr. Hoodbhoy it seems is obsessed with talking against the intelligence agencies.

    Why is the obsession growing on our society. Blame everything on the agencies.

    Also remember that visa restrictions are likewise from the other side, even tougher.

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  • Vineeth
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:46PM

    Dear Sir,

    Indeed sad. While we welcome tourists from all over the world, our neighbours have to go through this ordeal. But at the same time we have suffered badly due to laps of securities in many cases. Most of the attacks that have happened here have either direct or indirect links in your country. So people here are ultra cautious and that is understandable.

    One can only hope that the mutual trust will prevail and situation will improve some day!

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  • Zamalek Khan
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:50PM

    @Meekal Ahmed

    Sir, how are you sure if you have not experienced it? Do you have reliable evidence to make your assumption? Absence either of these you typify the kind of people on both sides of the Indo-Pak border who stereotype each other. For peace to prevail such behaviour must be shunned.

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  • bhupinder
    Oct 26, 2011 - 11:58PM

    It is sad the author was unable to get a visa for India. The condition in India is not so bad, as few of my associates have got visas to attend/address conferences in Lahore and Karachi in the recent past. I hope and pray free travel is available to people on both sides.

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  • Srinath
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:07AM

    Chiefs of Spooks on both the sides must consciously scale down the paranoia to facilitate greater people-to-people interaction, Escalating alienation is fraught with grave consequences for peace in the sub-continent. Also, detoxification of hate content in the school curriculum will go a long way in the reducing the prejudice against each other.

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  • M.Akthar
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:22AM

    Sir, you are right. Am currently in US & let me assure you its the green passport of our these countries have problem with. It took hours at the passport control while others including indians it took minutes! I also experience this issue in south east asia!

    Pakistan FO should take serious action against these countries (europe, US & south east asia & some muslim countries who are discriminating us! Always its we pakis who suffermost

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  • khan jr
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:27AM

    Under what Pakistani law are these goons allowed to harass people?

    I guess it must be the law of the danda…’might is right’ and ‘I gotta a big gun and you don’t', etc

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  • Obsever from UK
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:35AM

    @Roflcopter: Rubbish. People like you are one track minded. Hoodbhoy is an intelligent and patriotic citizen with liberal mind unlike you Recommend

  • Umair
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:38AM

    I have a lot of respect for this Genius. And i felt sad as to how has he being treated by security agencies of his own country. Perhaps they do not know that this Man has the courage to say everything on the face of everyone related to Pakistan that too inside Pakistan. I do not know, why our country has been hijacked? This is sad.

    I will not be more patriotic if i do not speak against the terrorism going on in my province KPK, i will be certainly more proud Pakistani when i see that Pushtuns are not bombed because of the bad policies of Khakis.

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  • rehmat
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:42AM

    @Meekal Ahmed:
    “I am sure it is WORSE on the Indian side”

    What is the basis for this statement? Just fyi – India is concerned about letting Pakistanis visit India due to fear of terrorism. They do not have a problem with trafic in other direction.

    People like Dawood Gilan aka DavidHeadley who pretended to be a businessman and was in essence helping with planning the Nov 26 attack on Mumbai has soured people. While it is true that for most terrorists currently come by boats or somehow sneaks past the LOC. But if the visa window was opened wide without due controls, then the fear is that all efforts of Indian army and intelligence to stop them would be bypassed.

    I understand and agree that 99% of people wanting to travel to India are legitimate Pakistanis and truly regret the extra hoops they have to jump to come to India from the perspective of India visa approval. Still those are the times we live in.

    in any event the bulk of the problem faced by Mr. Hoodboy was on his own side of the border and with Pakistani authorities, not Indian.

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  • Bangladeshi
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:48AM

    I have read this guy’s other articles and it amazes me that all he does is bash his own country , its army & intelligence agency, I don’t think people will ever find any article in Washingtonpost or Hindustantimes where there is nonstop criticism of one’s own country. Mr.hoodboy never wrote any article about CIA’s atrocities against the innocent people of iraq & AF. To him it seems like US & indian intellegence agencies are saints and knows no evil. Recommend

  • whatever
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:05AM

    I have never come across an incident wherein an Indian was prevented from entering a Pakistani high commission building by Indian intelligence agencies.In your case it seems you were prevented from going to India so that you wouldn’t be able to compare India and Pakistan and praise some of the things you’d like there,for example the education system,the economic progress,the relative freedom of religions etc most brainwashed pakistanis believe muslims are being harassed but the truth is minorities in pakistan have almost vanished and are being threatened by blasphemy laws while the islamic population in india has been growing in india in percentage terms.

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  • Sad Pakistani
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:17AM

    Professor Hoodbhoy, I am sorry to hear about the unsavory experience which you had at the hands of Pakistani security. I am a big admirer of your conviction, courage, secularism and open mindedness. If we had more people like you in today’s Pakistan, we would have much better relationship with not only India, but other countries of the world as well.

    While I can’t comment on Indian experience in getting a visa to Pak, I can tell you that my grandmother had a similar experience in getting her visa to go to Mumbai to meet her family. Our security agences made her feel like a criminal and they were rude to say the least. It took us a few months to get her visa. She has since returned from her visit very happy. May Allah guide us and show us the path to become better Pakistanis whose goal is to suceed through learning like you. Recommend

  • Dr Mishra
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:18AM

    Sorry, no one in Indian govt or Pakistan cares 2 hoots if you want to visit Pakistan.
    But, almost no one wants to visit Pakistan, unless it is abs essential- ie some muslim wanting to attend a wedding of a relative.
    Here in UK, most of my Pakistani doctor friends avoid visiting Pak. Most of us Indian doctors visit India on an average 1-2 times a year, however.
    Trust that clarifies.Recommend

  • Nadir
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:22AM

    Yep! Enough years of brainwashing will make any minion standing on the street, and breaking the constitutional rights of Pakistani citizens,a hero.

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  • som tyagi
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:26AM

    I am not sure if we ( both Indians and Pakistanis) realize how ridiculous we appear to the outside world. I am not sure if we have any clue about how to keep tab on the truly trouble makers, so we harass everybody. An internationally respected theoretical physicist in this case, who is neither a terrorist ( for India to worry about) nor has any top nuclear or other secrets to give away ( for Pakistan to worry about) This is shameful.

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  • Oct 27, 2011 - 1:27AM

    There is no reason in particular why we need to visit each other’s countries, to be honest. Be it an Indians or a Pakistani, either would prefer to go to Sri Lanka, Bangkok or the Gulf for cheap vacations. So what’s the problem?

    For relatives, they can easily go to Dubai to meet each other. The costs are the same, and the visas are much easier to get.Recommend

  • Jameel
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:31AM

    @Roflcopter:

    It’s good that ISI is keeping eye on
    people like Hoodbhoy because you can’t
    trust such people

    Why can’t Hoodbhoy be trusted? Does he pick up innocent journalists, human right activists and other innocent and make them disappear? Does he take onwards of Rs 800 billion of people money and don’t give accountability for it? Is he the one who lost all wars in our history? Was he responsible for the security of GHQ, Abbottabad and, Mehran bases?

    Why can’t he be trusted?

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  • Jameel
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:38AM

    @Hashmi:
    Never leave a chance to speak against the agencies. Mr. Hoodbhoy it seems is obsessed with talking against the intelligence agencies.
    Have agencies done any good lately? Have they mend their ways? Do we know where billions of rupees of agencies’ budget is being spent on, who makes the policies and where are all those missing persons?Recommend

  • faraz
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:50AM

    What’s funny is that after 7500 terrorists attacks, the spy agency still has a high opinion of itself

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  • Arindom
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:50AM

    I had never been to Pakistan, but new of a family who did regularly to visit family. I am sure there are no harassment from the Indian side – will be a surprise if there is. Visiting Pakistan is no big deal – it is the terrorists comin in form the other side that India has to be careful – but as you say terrorists do not apply for visas!!

    But personally I don’t mind ‘withering’ of people – to – people contacts with Pakistan – not that I have anything against Pakistanis – I have some very good Pakistani friends.

    It’s just that it’s not a good idea for the common Indian public to get exposed to the hate-filled jingoism and fundalism that goes on across the border. Indians better concentrate on removing poverty, development, education and progress – there is absolutely no need to get distracted by religious jingoism. Thousands of Westerners, Chinese, Japanese, Aussies, etc are working in India today. We are better off in developing ties to them.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Oct 27, 2011 - 2:01AM

    @Zamalek Khan:

    Did I say I condoned this behaviour? Did you read what I had said?

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  • Rajendra Kalkhande
    Oct 27, 2011 - 2:01AM

    Prof Hoodbhoy is one very rational thinker Pakistan has. Unfortunately he does not have many friends in Pakistani establishment. I don’t know about Pakistan High Commission in Delhi, but I have never faced any agency in front of any Embassy in India. let us hope people in power take notice of this article and Prof Hoodbhoy is allowed to visit IHC building for his VISA. Prof Hoodbhoy is an intellectual of very high degree and needs to be respected by Pakistanis and Indians alike.

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  • Vishal
    Oct 27, 2011 - 2:07AM

    I am actually surprised by this article. Why were Pakistani intelligence agents quizzing you even before you entered Indian high commission?I have never heard that before…I mean it should be Indian Visa officials that should ask you questions. Isn’t it against law for some random intelligence official to prevent a citizen to apply for a Visa without a legal restraining order from a Pakistan court? I must say, something is very wrong with the Visa process in Pakistan.

    Btw, I know that Visa for Pakistan is not so painful for Indians, apart from delays etc. I have known people who have to face large delays from Pakistani embassy (because of all the verification process etc), but I never heard of Indian agents asking questions before you even visit Pakistani high commission. Although, on a separate note, (and from what I heard from a friend who visited Pakistan recently), if you have a Pakistan port stamp on your passport, you become an automatic candidate for special screening at Heathrow and most US airports. I could hardly imagine what a mess it would be Pakistani passport holders.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Oct 27, 2011 - 2:07AM

    @antanu g:
    As a Green Card holder and a TAX PAYER, I know how it is to enter the US. However, in general, I am treated with a reasonable amount of coutersy. I wish they would let me go without a secondary inspection but as long as you (meaning Pakistani’s) keep sending your jihandi’s this way, why blame them?

    Keeping that in mind, all I can do is be patient and expect the worst even if as a Green Card holder I am allowed to use the “US Citizens Only” line.

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  • Indi-Pop
    Oct 27, 2011 - 2:10AM

    Dear Sir, I am deeply saddened to hear that you were unable to get a visa to India. In response to your question that whether Indians find it equally hard to get a visa to Pakistan. I haven’t personally applied for a visa to Pakistan and hence cant comment on the technical procedure. My comment is on your observation that how little the two nations know about each other. However . Both my maternal and paternal grandparents hail from Pakistan . I have grown up listening to their stories about partition and about their childhood memories in Rawalpindi, Dera etc. I was naturally curious about Pakistan when I grew up and nursed a desire to visit there once in my lifetime. However I soon realized the stigma attached to Pakistan because of how little we know about each other. I could never freely discuss my curiosity about Pakistan with my friends for fear of being taken as anti-national. Going there is a subject I don’t think I can ever broach with my family because I know they will not allow. To my understanding the average Pakistani gets a glimpse of what India is like through our films and television. But for Indians , awareness of the average Pakistani is pretty low. No Pakistani channels are shown here and films like Bol don’t really have much positive in them to talk about. Infact this website, which I came across through twitter was my real rendezvous with the average Pakistani. I don’t think travelling to Pakistan is high on agenda for most Indians and strict visa compliance doesn’t really bother them except maybe for watching a cricket match. Although I hope for visa restrictions to be relaxed and people to people contact increased however I don’t see that happening in the near future.

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  • Ch. Saleem
    Oct 27, 2011 - 2:13AM

    Both states are treating both the others citizens as bad as experienced. As a foreign passport holder crossing Wagah boarder you will feel quite an alien and lonely doing the exercise. I only hope following generations growing up and being educated to stop this pathetic and shameful behaviour. Happy Diwali, inshallah!

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  • khurram kaleem
    Oct 27, 2011 - 2:27AM

    there is a lot of insecurity for pakistanis as well to visit india .The security agency like Raw can charge anypakistani travelor as spying charges. so i salute all pakistanis who travel to india despite this threat.

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  • dcomp
    Oct 27, 2011 - 3:06AM

    @Vineeth: learn to read, he wasn’t stopped/harassed by indian security forces,it was Pakistani security forces….

    what i don’t understand is ,Pakistani forces provide the cover for religious nuts while they cross the border to create a “spectacular” mayhem in India but they won’t allow a professor,strange indeed..let the angry indian speak from our side

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  • AK
    Oct 27, 2011 - 3:09AM

    I know someone who recently travelled to Pakistan without having to battle it out with RAW. At least it is not viewed at a threat to the country on this side of the border.

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  • Sindhvoice
    Oct 27, 2011 - 3:10AM

    The myth of strategic depth and national security state has completely rotten our state. their certificate for patriotism is valid only for those who follow them blindly.If intellectual and scientist like Dr.Hoodby could be dealt in such rogue manner, what will a ordinary Pakistan expect from those masters of our destiny??Very sad indeed to read, the country is all in mess. People need a fresh air of better and progressive change.Dont enslave your own people, let them live with dignity!

    My sincere wishes for Dr.Hoodby!Recommend

  • Ilmana Fasih
    Oct 27, 2011 - 3:55AM

    Sir, I know exactly how you feel.
    I am an India born educated person, who by chose to marry a man who I thought was ideal for me, ignoring the fact that he was a Pakistani. And for personal reasons and for practical purposes, chose to take up a Pakistani Passport. Now 20 years on, I face an arduous battle each year to seek visa for myself and my family to visit India. And this is despite the fact that I am educated and my parents both were Professors of Political Science in none other than University of Delhi. And that I have been writing first Letters to the Editors, and now articles in the Print media about the situation. But it all falls on deaf ears.

    Believe me, to get a visa as a guest, scientist, artist is still easy, but for many like us living divided families, the experience is a nightmare.

    My soul shudders when I am faced with the reality so blatantly put forth by you that “As travel barriers become ever higher, their respective populations are becoming progressively more unfamiliar and estranged from the other.”

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  • Oct 27, 2011 - 4:04AM

    One of the few sane voices of the country. One ought to listen to him. He is a man with a mission.

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  • Shah
    Oct 27, 2011 - 4:16AM

    I am sorry to see this whole discussion degenerating in to an India /Pakistan war.
    The fact of the matter is that a visa should have been issued to Dr. Hoodhbhoy without a personal appearance at the Indian High Commission. He is a well known physicist.
    If he was officially invited for a meeting, what was the need for him to make a personal trip to the High Commission. ?

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  • Mj
    Oct 27, 2011 - 4:18AM

    @Roflcopter:
    I sure hope you were being sarcastic. Prof. Sahib is an intellectual asset of this country. That an eighth-grade fail intelligence agents are harassing him and other visa applicants should be a cause for concern.

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  • Cosmo
    Oct 27, 2011 - 4:22AM

    Proff:
    The funny thing is that we hear more about RAW in Pakistani websites and newspapers than we actually do in India. Common Indians have nothing to do with them. After all, secrecy should be the biggest asset of an intelligence agency, not formulating laws/legislation or making political statements on TV. I guess we are just fortunate that we are not controlled/governed by any agency like that.
    I actually read the article three times to make sure that it is in fact ISI that stopped a PAKISTANI to enter into INDIAN high commission. Something not jiving here. ain’t it?

    By the way am really surprised that they targeted you, coz last i know loads of Pakistani artists are visiting India to work in our film industry. Even Shohaib Akhtar was allowed to enter into India so he could promote his book, and mint money. Well, I guess that may have something to do with you speaking your mind and not supporting the conspiracy theories on Pak TV channels.

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  • American
    Oct 27, 2011 - 4:27AM

    M.Akthar,

    Who asked you to come to US if you feel insulted in long queues at the immigration. You guys are the ones, who habitually burn my country’s flag, every now and then.

    No day passes, when someone in the media does not send out curses Americans.

    Inspite of all this, we allow you to enter US, albeit with a bit delay,then whats the problem. Aren’t we entitled to make sure, about the intent of a visitor, whose majority ppl are hostile to your country.

    Think about it.

    American

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  • Devils Advice
    Oct 27, 2011 - 4:31AM

    Mr. Pervez Hoodbhoy

    India Should give you multiple entry visa and facilitate your visit to India,You are always welcome and Anytime.

    But Not for your other countryman ( I say man not woman) ,They have to prove themselves that they are not affilated to terror ,and that is at least GOI can do for its citizen.

    We are sorry if that hurts you ,But we do respect you here.
    Better luck next time ,I hope PMOI is reading my comments.

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  • Munir Ahmad Saeed
    Oct 27, 2011 - 4:38AM

    I fully agree with Dr Hodbhoy, about the troubles of getting Indian visa. Some of them are reciprocal. Yes, a Pakistani, despite having other citizenship such as Australian, is still considered a person of Pakisani origin by Indian embassies over the world. It requires to fill up a separate form, provide your address in Pakistan, even if you do not have any, and visa application processing is done in 45 days, a specil treatment for Australians of Pakistani origin.
    However, there are two layers of barriers in Pakistan to apply for Indian visia- Crossing the security and intelligence cordon and the other is condictions by the Indian HC for a visa. Dr Hoodbhoy failed in crossing the Pakistan barriers. It hurts more when your own countrymen make life tough
    There is no hope of better times in the future

    Munir A Saeed
    Canberra

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  • B
    Oct 27, 2011 - 5:27AM

    @Proud Pakistani:

    The fact that you’d rather visit Dubai shows a lot about your utter lack of taste. I don’t even want to comment on your highly racist statement about ‘dark brown people.’

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  • Usman
    Oct 27, 2011 - 5:42AM

    @Bangladeshi:
    It is a new breed of journalists in this country and I’m glad you noticed. They regularly write anti-pakistan articles in foreign newspapers and then they expect to be treated like royalty. Pakistan would have gone the way of Libya if it hadn’t been for the ISI keeping a check on these sorts of journalists.Recommend

  • MANJIT SINGH
    Oct 27, 2011 - 6:05AM

    Well, there are seluths outside pakistan embassy . They keep an eye on who enters the building, they even follow those who come out. They ask questions from some applicants, occationally check a passport, but as per my experience nobody is intimidated or harassed. Rather, the staff in the visa section was found to be non polite to the general public, may be as most of them are poor and non vips

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  • Adeel759
    Oct 27, 2011 - 6:42AM

    They would ve transported youto India without visa, had you promised to carry tools of havoc with you.

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  • jabar
    Oct 27, 2011 - 6:58AM

    Every day thousands of Indian arrive in Pakistan who are dying to visit Pakistan. They roam around in the cities and are really happy to be here. A few Indian trolls here cannot be considered as representative of all Indians.

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  • Uzair
    Oct 27, 2011 - 7:12AM

    @Indi-Pop: The only positive indian message i saw eversince i started surfing/reading Tribune, The fact is that we dont and wont trust each other unless and until we have a real democratically elected fair and upright governments, because than the aim becomes trade, business, tourism.

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  • No Nonsense
    Oct 27, 2011 - 7:21AM

    Hatred and hostility towards India has brought Pakistan to its present state. Four wars and licked each time. Small country committing aggression against its bigger neighbour.

    Why go farther away when there is a world to see in India where we can communicate with people in our language?

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  • Srinath Rangaswamy
    Oct 27, 2011 - 7:47AM

    Dr. Hoodbhoy, You and Mr. Sethi are two sane voices that I often see on TV on your various talk shows. The chest pounding from some anchors is truly astounding and laughable at times..Today’s IMF report about Pakistan is truly frightening.Only 12.9 billion in foreign reserves with 9 from IMF and 0.5 ea from China and Saudi Arabia. PIA and PR are in ruins. The floods have totally ruined cotton crop. A sorry state of affairs indeed. Hillary said “Trade not Aid” but not one person asked her why Pakistan was not buying more from India and saving precious foreign exchange. Sad that Pak Govt and its agencies are more interested in preventing cooperation with India..Wish you better luck next time..

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  • Oct 27, 2011 - 8:09AM

    If you think about it, India has nothing to lose and a few things to gain by going away from Pakistan(at least if not geographically), but Pakistan has everything to lose if it goes away from India.

    I am not talking about the visa restrictions, but something beyond that.

    As the Author says the 2 Countries have followed different trajectories since partition. Why? India has remained India. Its movies still have the song and dance routine of the 50s and the 60s. Its songs still have a mixture of Carnatic and Hindustani. People still celebrate Eid and Diwali with the same fervor.

    But, Pakistan has declined culturally. They say that Lahore used to be a cultural center back in the day. True, its musicians come to India and make a lot of money. But, Indian musicians dont go to Pakistan.

    Its much more complex than all of this. Pakistan has adopted an un-India policy, which goes against nature, if you will. India doesn’t have any such emotional baggage from Partition. It always knew what it was, what it is and what it will be or what it aim to be.

    Recommend

  • Oct 27, 2011 - 8:20AM

    Many people think subversion is not a crime in Pakistan, however intelligence agencies know what subversion is. Common Pakistanis are to naive to understand since only text book their thought process come from West.

    Recommend

  • vikas
    Oct 27, 2011 - 8:32AM

    mr. pervez you are straight forward person.we welcome you to new delhi.please do come

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  • Arifq
    Oct 27, 2011 - 8:40AM

    Good Professor has raised an important issue for the people of this region, these two neighbors need to learn more about each other, a ignorant nperson is usually indifferent and that factor can be exploited. For those passionate and patriotic Pakistanis who defend their agencies and believe Our Professor got what he deserved ask yourselves why is it that Pakistan has to host their cricket matches in foreign lands? Where were the agencies when the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked?

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  • sanjithmenon
    Oct 27, 2011 - 8:46AM

    Well Dear Dr i understand your position. But nobody in India wants to travel to your country, for reasons well understood.

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  • DG
    Oct 27, 2011 - 8:49AM

    This article and opinions of some of the commentors point to the fact that Indian High Commission needs to be careful of the people atually reaching them after the Pakistan Security (ISI) scrutiny !!!

    No wonder we see such less flow of people !!!

    And we have Aman ki Asha !!! Real contradiction all around.

    Recommend

  • Babloo
    Oct 27, 2011 - 8:54AM

    My brother once travelled to Pakistan on company work from India. Absolutely no interference of any kind by Indian government. I am shocked at the level of intrusion in private lives of Pakistani citizens.

    Recommend

  • Sanjay, Mumbai
    Oct 27, 2011 - 8:57AM

    General environment between India – Pakistan is of suspicion, distrust at every level..not just politics. This may be a sweeping statement, with some exception here & there..but lets not get despondent about guys snooping around in places which is least wanted. But , both countries needs to resolve basic issue about distrust built over the years to avoid such avoidable experiences in obtaining visas etc.No neighbors can develop and progress on sustained basis living in such paranoid atmosphere. India with its size and other positive traits will manage to out grow this neighborly distrust , though which may slow pace of growth..Pakistan will have hard time to grow rapidly living under shadow of instability within its boundaries and mistrust with neighbours on either side. Its interest of all – “aam admi” on each side that Politicians, Intellectuals, Religious & Spiritual leaders. media persons, sports persons, scholars , entertainment industry etc behave in mature manner and encourage building of trust and dis courage harming others.

    Earlier that we all behave in mature manner better is for all of us.

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  • scare
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:09AM

    Look India has move on.They don’t have the time to visit Pakistan for obvious reasons.Indian now go far easteren countries on low budget.Universal studios at Singapore is prime examp,half of daily tourist are from India.Please make your society more tolerent.Let people make the opinion which you don’t like.Religion doesn’t come into everything.

    Recommend

  • ashok sai
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:13AM

    @ Author

    Sir, with all respect to your writings in the past, I peg to differ on your argument, terrorists came by boat etc., Mr.David Coleman Headley came via all the proper mode you have mentioned.

    Recommend

  • Altaf Ahmad Bhutta
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:20AM

    This is the first article in many years that has given me consolation that our beloved intelligence agencies are keeping an watchful eye on ‘GHADDARS’, particularly those who, after a visit to India, become even more daring in their treason and treachery.

    Recommend

  • Amit
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:22AM

    Dear Dr. Hoodbhoy,
    Your experience with the Indian consulate sounds pleasant. Try getting a ration card in India to experience the real thing. Recommend

  • Karachite
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:30AM

    @Dr Mishra:

    It is sad what mindset do you indians have towards pakistan. Even professionals like yourself spewing venom, It is sad indeed. I pity you Mr Mishra

    Recommend

  • Karachite
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:32AM

    @Bangladeshi:

    Perhaps you should start reading Professor Norm Chomsky of MIT about exposing CIA and US govt. By the way Prof Chomsky is a US citizen and indeed a brilliant man

    Recommend

  • Karachite
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:35AM

    @Arindom:

    Read what you wrote before blaming others for everything in your life. Just read your own writing again and you will smell the hatred brimming. So close minded people.

    Recommend

  • Amar
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:44AM

    @arindam – I am sorry I don’t agree with you. If for a moment I accept that there is hate filled jingoism and fundamentalism across the border, then don’t you think the biggest anti-dote would be more people visiting us and not less.

    Recommend

  • Akash
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:51AM

    Prof Hoodbhoy is always welcome in India and if I had my way I would give him life time Visa for India.

    Only if agencies and authorities in Pakistan start listening to sane voices like Prof Hoodbhoy things may start to change. Recommend

  • MarkH
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:54AM

    Lets see…

    Listen to a person from Pakistan cry foul play, complain, make large accusations, rant about Muslim mistreatment while simultaneously condoning the deaths of all others, pre-judge everyone as looking at them as inferior and act like drama queens because of it but wonder why nobody wants to interact with them, having to worry about every word you say getting taken as blasphemy and other oh so rare things for safety.
    Ignore past attacks, current/future threats and all of the bigotry coming out of the country towards everyone on Earth besides murderers and dictators resulting in a heightened probability to die like fodder at the hands of a bleak and futile cause that will never find acceptance in the light of day by any good human being.

    Decisions, decisions.

    I think most reasonable people would go for the risk of hurting someone’s feelings. Even if it isn’t personal, it’ll always get a rise out of the self-righteous types. The only time you won’t is if they’re the ones doing it. Difference is, they’ll do it for reasons grounded in bigotry rather than safety.

    This conscience is clean and hate free. Take it up with reality.

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  • aakash
    Oct 27, 2011 - 10:00AM

    After few Americans(with past connection from Pakistan) came to India on tourist visa and all they did in the name of sight seeing was select places where LeT millitants could bomb, the Visa rules got bit more tight.

    Its sad that a highly educated and courageous Prof Hoodbhoy had to suffer but looking at bigger picture we Indians would like a strict Visa policy as we do not wish to see any more attacks.

    Recommend

  • samia
    Oct 27, 2011 - 10:08AM

    the has articulated beautifully the hardships one has to face while applying for the Indian Visa. Still these are only few things,,,,.there are much more to write. My grandfather andfather used to go India alot but we, the third generation can’t , despite we have our hom and relatives there

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  • Akber
    Oct 27, 2011 - 10:08AM

    this is ridicuus, but what could we do? Or what should we do? Is there is a way to reason with them? Is there is a place or a way we can lodge a complaint ?Recommend

  • CommonSense
    Oct 27, 2011 - 10:13AM

    @Indian Trolls
    You guys never miss an opportunity to do the holy than thou dance do you? Do you have ANY idea HOW difficult it is for even Pakistanis to get a visa for India? They face difficulties not just in Pak but even if someone applies from Dubai or elsewhere there is an 80 percent chance they will be rejected. And in this case please dont give me the terrorist argument because even Even students and housewives married to Indians dont get spared the biased Indian visa policy. So the pendulum basically swings both ways. Yes it sucks and its unfortunate but this is the consequence of hostility being whipped up in BOTH countries.

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  • Rao Amjad Ali
    Oct 27, 2011 - 10:20AM

    Based on accounts of scores of relatives who have visited Lahore from UP over the last 10 years, it appears that visa regulations for Indians wishing to visit Pakistan are relatively more liberal, if not enlightened.

    My suspicion is that our policies are governed by bureaucratic incompetence, not by credible intelligence intercepts or other material evidence which the security agencies may have gathered to determine that the level of security threat is sufficiently high to warrant that each applicant, regardless of his or her profile, be scrutinized and humiliated indiscriminately to a point where instead of reason shouting matches ensue between the applicant and valiant gate keepers.

    I have seen firsthand how a simple quest for a visit by an aging and unarmed lady to the Indian High Commission for a visa degenerated into mutual psychosis as she was repeatedly asked the same question by the Pakistani security personnel: “Waat is the purpose of your visit?”

    Recommend

  • Infidel Humanist
    Oct 27, 2011 - 10:53AM

    I am tired of comments here trying to draw a moral equivalency between Indian and Pakistani positions on the need to treat people from the other side with suspicion and hostility.

    Can anyone point me to news about a group of RAW-trained Indians holding the Islamabad Marriott hostage for three days. Or news about a group of Indians attacking Pakistan’s parliament. Or news about a group of Indians murdering innocent people anywhere in Pakistan …

    Regarding Mr. Hoodbhoy, I have the greatest respect for him, and I sincerely hope that he finds his way to India and continues his work of fostering better relations between good and decent people on both sides.

    Recommend

  • Paras Vikmani
    Oct 27, 2011 - 10:56AM

    One of the best articles I have read till date.

    Recommend

  • misha
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:00AM

    @Roflcopter:
    and why not? he is one of the best minds this country has produced.

    Recommend

  • misha
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:03AM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    You entirely missed the point of the article. It’s not about obtaining or not obtaining a visa. It’s about how states enforce their agendas on their citizens.

    Recommend

  • Rakesh Sharma
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:04AM

    Dear Professor,

    I’m appalled after reading this story. I’m not going to comment on Pakistan’s policies and its intelligence agencies but I WILL send this message to the Indian Embassy in Pakistan. I hope they contact you and help you with the process.

    Thanks.

    Sincerely,

    Just-another-Indian

    Recommend

  • ayesha
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:06AM

    @Meekal Ahmed:
    “@Zamalek Khan:
    Did I say I condoned this behaviour? Did you read what I had said?”

    Acyually

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  • R.Khan
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:09AM

    Excellent Article! There are very few intelluctuals like PH in Pakistan. Hats off to him. I respect & have very high regards for him. Happy Diwali to my Indian friends.

    Recommend

  • ayesha
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:11AM

    @Meekal Ahmed:
    “@Zamalek Khan:
    Did I say I condoned this behaviour? Did you read what I had said?”

    Actually I carefully read what he said and you said. It looks like he HAS read what you said but not the converse. No-one thinks you condoned the Pakistani agencies’ behavior. But both Zamalek and I wonder how you came to the conclusion that you are SURE that Indian agencies are worse in how they treat Indian citizens. The fact is that India has many challenges – poverty, hunger and corruption amongst key ones. But one thing India has never had to deal with is bullying by the army or intelligence agencies. No Indian would be prevented from visiting the Pakistani consulate by RAW.

    Recommend

  • Arpan
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:14AM

    I want to visit Pakistan , I want to visit locations but I done even know on what grounds can I get Visa ? There is no tourist Visa between two nations

    Recommend

  • ayesha
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:17AM

    @Proud Pakistani:
    “Why would anyone in their right mind go to India. What good is there in India ?”
    5 million foreigners come to India. As do the most talented of your artistes. You should ask them.This author ofcourse has made it very clear why he wanted to visit India – so there is nothing hypothetical about that.

    “See more poor & dark brown people ?”

    That is a really racist statement.

    Recommend

  • Pierre
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:25AM

    I did visit the Pakistani HC in Delhi for a visa last year. There was no one at the gate except an aged watchman. He asked me to surrender my cellphone but I can tell you the Israelis (a friendly state to New Delhi!) ask for far more.
    Your diplomats and officers were extremely hospitable and I enjoyed my conversation with them. Sadly, the trip never materialised.

    Recommend

  • Khan
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:28AM

    Dear Sir, after reading your article and the following comments, I can say with certainty that our “holy cows” are leaving no stone un-turned to convert Pakistan into a complete pariah state. While we live in anguish, they enjoy their lives in their cantonments.

    Recommend

  • basanti
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:40AM

    “Armed terrorists from Pakistan have indeed crossed borders. But they have gone by boat, crawled under fences and climbed difficult mountains”

    hmm..Thats coz terrorists cannot get visas easily?

    “To penetrate airports or checkpoints, and cross multiple hurdles, is not the terrorist route”

    Surely, the good professor is not aware of 9/11 attacks.Where terrorists entered USA on student visa.

    Recommend

  • anil
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:42AM

    @Mr.HoodBoy…

    I don’t know why ur officials harassed you .
    But I am not agreed with you in some points .For a terrorist ,age and profession doesn’t matter. We had in India ,a Delhi University professor was involved in terrorist activities .Even in recent attack in Delhi , a medical student was involved. This is all about how fare they have been brain washed .

    Yes, for my father and my grand pa who are 54 and 80 respectively ,Pak may not be an alien country . But for us those are below 30 ,Pak is surely a alien country .When we heard Laden was caught inside pak under the nose tip of Islamabad , we were really shocked .We had not heard of any Jihadi or Talibani culture in south Asian culture.But these are now everyday story in Pakistan .Obviously these are not Pakistani culture ,these are the invasive Arabian culture.

    Yes , I am agreed with you that we are on a different cultural path which won’t meet.In recent path , our culture has been deteriorated by western influence ,but has never been gone down to this level .We still want world to remember us as Gandhian and Buddhism culture.

    Recommend

  • harkol
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:48AM

    Pervez Hoodboy:

    I do not know how it is from the Indian side.

    I think I can answer this question. In India, if you were from Kashmir you may face similar treatment. Not if you are from rest of India. :(

    But, it is unlikely you’d be denied permission to get a visa unless the foreign office has prohibited your travel abroad explicitly and it withstands the scrutiny by a court of law! In India courts are both independent and liberal. They don’t hesitate to go against the govt. (Army doesn’t even come in to the picture) and they don’t hesitate to go against popular mood in cases of fundamental rights being violated.

    So, in India I would have moved court and obtained restraint against anyone from stopping me entering Pakistan Embassy, even if someone tried.

    Recommend

  • Irshad Khan
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:52AM

    Mr. Hoodbhoy is a highly educated, highly civilised, a renowned/bold speaker, a famous writer, one of the known intelligencia of the country, a thinker, a philosopher, a patriotic person and what not. We should be proud of this Pakistani. Head of the Agency, whose people harassed him, should have the courage to apologise this one of the finest human being of this country.

    We should also coolly examine whether our so called friendly countries ie America, Britain and other Europeans damaged our interests more than India or not; and are still after us in many ways?

    Recommend

  • Vic G
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:09PM

    I’m Indian and wanted to categorically state that having a Pak visa on my passport opens an entirely new can of worms while applying for western visas. Sadly, Pak documentation evokes stricter scrutiny, longer interviews and a lot more pain.Therefore, even if India and Pakistan make their visa regimes easier, an average Indian will not want to travel to Pakistan until it washes away it’s association to violent hoohaas.

    Recommend

  • Feroz
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:14PM

    Being an Indian citizen I can say that no Indian knows who is head of RAW. Forget about encountering an Indian agent, you do not know anyone who has ever encountered one either. No foreign Diplomat can meet an armed forces personnel including heads of the Services. India is a Democracy where only peoples representatives can decide on any or every issue. Indian agents cannot vet who visits Pakistan or any other country, that is the prerogative of the country issuing the visa. People going missing is an alien concept in a working Democracy. Those apprehended have to be produced before a court within 48 hrs and the Police does the picking up. Lastly the Intelligence Agencies are civilian organisations and under the control of the Home Ministry not any Military organisation. A World of difference indeed !

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  • sarim
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:16PM

    this is really sad to hear but this is not new. we have treated our genious people the way Hoodbhoy was treated. This is shameful.

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  • Sohail Baloch
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:29PM

    I wonder how come Dr. Hodbhoy had to go him self to submit his passport, these days one has to drop their passports at either Vistronix or Gerry’s along with the required documents, and if the IHC has some sense, they would issue a visa for him with out any interview or for him appearing at the IHC, and it should not have been a problem given the stature of Dr. Hodhboy,

    Recommend

  • Feroz
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:31PM

    @Proud Pakistani:
    “See more poor & dark brown people ?” I can see that racism still does exist in the minds of some people in South Asia. Preferring to go to Dubai or Turkey or elsewhere is individual choice but commenting on foreign people and calling them dark brown or milk white is definitely racist. Hoping you see Wisdom some day !

    Recommend

  • Murtaza B Aslam
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:37PM

    Our relation with India and our foreign policy with India is made by our establishment which consist of Army officials and in our course books we have to read that India is our worse enemy and she is in ready mood to attack on our country all the time but i think this perception is wither away day by day. It is time for us to change our policy toward India and own our history.

    Recommend

  • Farooq Khan
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:41PM

    But why were you going to India. Visit karachi instead. Half of India is there. Recommend

  • menteliscio
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:48PM

    Oh its like indians welcome you with hot cakes!

    Recommend

  • Hassan
    Oct 27, 2011 - 12:50PM

    Quote from the article: “He and his men were unmoved by the fact that their spy institution had spectacularly failed to gather intelligence necessary for protecting the life and property of Pakistani citizens. In fact, it had lost three of its regional headquarters to attacks by religious terrorists and suicide bombers.”

    I have actually lost respect for you; what is your suggestion–to remove all the security? At least this is what they can do. I agree the ‘home-grown’ terrorism has been more deadly but who has been watering the plant?

    Talking about other side of the wall; I just confirmed from an Indian friend that Pakistanis visiting India are suppose to report twice in the police station per day while in Pakistani its once per day–Congratulations Hoodbhoy.

    Anyhow, personally I belive you are a better Pakistani than I am; its just that you are vocal about holes on your vest while I believe in silently repairing them without advertisement. Recommend

  • gp65
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:02PM

    @Meekal Ahmed
    Ask any educated Pakistani who is ISI head. They will know the answer. Now ask any Indian who is the head of RAW. I doubt anyone knows. I did not know and I googled to find out. The name is Sanjeev Tripathi. I had NEVER heard that name. That shows what type of influence ISI and RAW have on the psyches of its own citizens. In light of that it is unclear why you are SURE that Indians would face greater harassment from RAW than Dr. Hoodbhoy faced at hands of ISI..

    Recommend

  • AN
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:10PM

    @Bangladeshi:
    If citizens of a country as deeply in trouble as Pakistan do not introspect, how will the country get out its troubles? It takes courage and conviction to call a spade a spade. Being an ostrich never helped nobody.

    Recommend

  • From_Cham
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:32PM

    I was a Swiss Diplomat in Islamabad until very recently for 4 years and have been in that diplomatic enclave know how it is, Islamabad fortress.These spooks keep a very obvious eye on every foreigner every time and follow you every where… weird but true one is always followed. ..and especially if you have an Indian diplomat as a friend ;)
    Recommend

  • Hindu Indian
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:35PM

    Hi my 2 cents, there are people who ask question “why do you want to go”. I think thats my personal choice and you dont have any business in asking me why. I am a normal citizen who wishes to visit a place for personal choice and not to mean any harm and being a human i think i should have an opportunity to do the same. I do understand the paranoia that we Indians and Pakistanis have against each other and dont expect the same to be removed atleast in this life time, but i agree with Mr Author on his views. Having said this, I am a normal South Indian on whom the partition on India had 0% impact. None of my family members are in Pakistan nor did my ancestors own anything there, but still i want to know more about you, thats the reason i read Pakistani newspaper, to know “your perspective of us”. But still i dont discuss the fact that i visit Pakistani newpapers because of the fear of being branded anti-national. Hope one day this changes

    Recommend

  • Obsrever
    Oct 27, 2011 - 1:45PM

    @Feroz:

    Good points. You missed one very important aspect. The RAW is an external intelligence agency. By law, they can’t, and they don’t, engage in internal espionage against its own citizen leave alone controlling the nation’s policies.

    Recommend

  • Rajiv Sahney
    Oct 27, 2011 - 2:25PM

    I thought that it was an excellent article. I completely agree with the premise that it is only people to people links which will get us out of this morass taht we have created for ourselves. To see each other as people and not demonise the other side without understanding.

    I visited Pakistan for the first time nearly 10 years ago, I was fortunate that I was visiting with an organisation so the visa issues were taken care of for me – I actually did not need to do or meet anyone. And it was an incredible visit – through which I have become friendly with a number of Pakistani’s. Where I would be happy to visit again. The challenge that stops be is no longer fear, but the feeling that there are so many interesting other places to discover, learn from and participate in. And a concern that Pakistan is unfortunately heading down a terrible path, not towards just terrorism, but towards irrelevancy. This is the path that India followed for 40 years post independance, and I think that the focus on the economy has done more than any handwringing or foreign policy will towards creating a better environment for our own people.

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  • Mazo
    Oct 27, 2011 - 2:45PM

    “RAW” agents are only ever seen in Pakistani newspapers and heard in Pakistani conspiracies on the internet. I can tell you with great certainty that 99% of Indians have never ever seen a RAW agent and even if they have, I doubt they would ever come to know it was a RAW agent. Most Indians police and other security agencies also rarely deal with RAW. Like the mythical 9 men of Xerxes or the illuminati, RAW is an agency most Indians have “heard” about but never seen. I think they like it that way.
    The largest domestic intelligence agency in India is the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and these officers are much more “visible” but even these people are rarely seen on “the streets”. The most common “security” hurdle for the average Indian is the lowly constable or overworked Inspector who close off roads or block access or halt traffic for VIPs (politicians). Local police is usually most Indians first and last level of contact with law enforcement and security agencies.

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  • waqqas iftikhar
    Oct 27, 2011 - 2:52PM

    @Farooq Khan – bravo….while you are basking in the smugness of your comments, you should remember that had those ‘indians’ whose offspring are now in khi..not voted for the league….there would have been no pakistan.

    Recommend

  • vickram
    Oct 27, 2011 - 3:00PM

    Believe me, I never knew India had a powerful spy agency called RAW till I started visiting Pakistani websites.

    99 percent of Indians do not know that India has created the world’s most powerful spy agency, RAW, who can infiltrate into other country’s army and even cause floods and earthquakes.

    Recommend

  • agnostic
    Oct 27, 2011 - 3:04PM

    @Proud Pakistani:
    “Why would anyone in their right mind go to India. What good is there in India ?”
    “See more poor & dark brown people ?”

    You may be a proud Pakistani. But can Pakistan be proud of people like you?

    Recommend

  • ukmuslim
    Oct 27, 2011 - 3:04PM

    @author

    2 attempts of application for uk visa was rejected for bollywood ‘c’ grade singer when last year she visited pakistan and did some programmes there… in general everyone avoids pakistan…

    Do RAW agents harass and insult those Indians applying to the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi for a visa? Let the angry Indian speak up from his side of the wall, as I have from mine.

    i believe indians don’t know or read much about RAW in india. i am sure they never seen one… not even outside of pakistan embassy in delhi.

    if anyone wants information about RAW, read pakistani media.Recommend

  • x
    Oct 27, 2011 - 3:18PM

    @american, when america attacks us on our soil and after the horrors perpetrated and the innocent men, women and children killed in waziristan, i think you can not blame the outraged, grieved people from harbouring anti american sentiments and being moved to burning american flags after watching their famlies and houses burn!!

    @all the indians here, your comments and your contemptuous attitude reflect our (imaginary) superiority complex and ingrained racism as well as your narrow minded, petty and hostile thinking.

    enough said.

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  • stuka
    Oct 27, 2011 - 4:44PM

    Indian intelligence has no security barrier or permit for the diplomatic area. The embassies themselves have a security system. As an example, for the US embassy there is an outer layer of private Indian security guards, and then US Marines on the inner perimeter and inside.

    The Pakistani embassy has a big crowd outside, typically Indian Muslims applying to visit family members.

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  • Sadia
    Oct 27, 2011 - 5:03PM

    @x:
    @all the indians here, your comments and your contemptuous attitude reflect our (imaginary) superiority complex and ingrained racism as well as your narrow minded, petty and hostile thinking.

    enough said.

    haha … am quite amused by your typo “reflect our (imaginary) superiority complex”. enough said :)

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  • SouthIndian
    Oct 27, 2011 - 5:05PM

    I want to tell my Indian friends here who are keen on visiting Pakistan to enrich their minds…

    If you have a Pakistani visa in your passport, you should forget visiting US for some time…

    Or at least, you should be prepared for a grueling time at the immigration counter at the US airport. Any one who has visited Pakistan on a short trip will be singled out for intense interrogation at US airports.

    Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Oct 27, 2011 - 5:12PM

    I know in karachi many my friends just dont wanna visit there famlies in india U.P or Bihar
    because of hard time they get in obtaining visa and scare to become like some Chisty sahab in Dehli jail with out commiting any crime by the hands of crrupt indian forces.

    Recommend

  • ithink
    Oct 27, 2011 - 5:47PM

    @cosmo
    yes you are right ….
    in any public place if you ask anyone about indian inteligence agency….
    99% ans is CBI… IB etc. few know about RAW
    i bet even 99% of indians have ever met or know any officer of any agency… or can name their directors….
    recently some bollywood movies plot scence on RAW… but still people are unaware….
    coz in democracy its more important to know your corporater… mla… or parliamentarin to pull there legs….

    Recommend

  • AK
    Oct 27, 2011 - 6:20PM

    @Proud Pakistani:
    You epitomize what is wrong with Pakistan.
    People like you are biggest threat to the nation of Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • FZ
    Oct 27, 2011 - 6:22PM

    of all the places in the world why would you want to go to india- they are as backward as us if not more.

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  • PRADIP KUMAR SINHA
    Oct 27, 2011 - 6:23PM

    Dear Sir,

    It is really sorry state of affair. We Indians believe in leniency in inviting guests from any country. “Atithi Devo Bhava” meaning Guest is like God and so he should be treated accordingly. Even our constitution has also been drafted to give special treatment to minorities. Love and Trust are two key things which make a nation with a civilized texture with a great character. Let us have civility, love and affection for all even if that cost you something so precious.

    Love thy neighbor should be the mindset for Pakistan to grow or else all your so called friends will doubt your intentions. Results are in plenty viz., US, Britain, Australia and many others do not trust Pakistan.

    Lead a life on a great mission to serve humanity at large rather than lead a life with an individualistic and parochial agenda.

    There is no getting away from the sublime truth to Love all. Best of Luck…….. Recommend

  • Hoodbhoy FAN
    Oct 27, 2011 - 6:26PM

    I resonate allmost all of his views about Pakistan and India. His youtube lectures are awesome. He is one of the only few Pakistanis who has placed his country on the scientific world map with his publications in Nature etc. Except boasting about army power, Chinese brotherhood, nucelar assets and scrambling F16′s what did Pakistan achieved in 60 years of independence. I am sure that as a British colony Pakistan must have achieved more and much more (ex. South africa).

    Hoodhboy is a gift of god to Pakistan.

    I condemn the attitude of Indian authorities for not giving him Visa, infact he should be made a visiting professor of Indian Institute of Science Bangalore.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Oct 27, 2011 - 7:11PM

    @ Hoodbhoy Fan,
    Condenming pakistan is so easy whay u give to pakistan this is the question and about
    Mr Hoodbhoy he is Phisics sciencist and from muslim country what u think in these how
    every body treating us wake up man and by the way who care if india dont wanna give
    visa why some body bothers to go there seeing at holy cows roaming on the streets and sh…. and watching monkeys in Dehlis…

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  • observer
    Oct 27, 2011 - 8:00PM

    @Ali Tanoli

    why some body bothers to go there seeing at holy cows roaming on the streets and sh…. and watching monkeys in Dehlis…

    Yup, beats me why people want to do that when they can roam the streets of their own country watching people being blown up to bits and killers being showered with rose petals for being Ghazis. Some people never learn brother, but you keep enlightening them.

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  • maestro
    Oct 27, 2011 - 8:54PM

    Until and unless there are frank people to people contacts, nothing will change in Indo-Pak relations. I have lived abroad for many years and now count several Indians as some of my best friends. Why? Because we both realized how much we have in common. Some of them were shocked that I knew the lyrics to lots of classic indian film songs and I was in return shocked that they adored Junoon, Vital Signs, Strings, Atif Aslam, Noori, Nusrat Fateh Ali, Nazia Hassan and our classic dramas from the late 80s early 90s like Chand Girhain, Tanhayeeyan, etc. We immediately developed a bond over such small things. We even watched India Pakistan cricket matches together in good fun and made harmless jokes that no one took seriously but just laughed together. And congratulated the other if the other side won by saying, we’ll get ya next time – LOL. My mother has been to India 6 times in the last few years and cannot stop talking about the hospitality and respect shown to her by common people. She stayed with a host family in Delhi and they actually visited her in Islamabad last year – they too were overwhelmed by the respect shown to them here. They actually said “This is Pakistan?? WOW!” So, in short, if we allow our people to at least and develop some level of friendly understanding of each other, things will change dramatically. Peace.

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  • Noor
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:04PM

    At least one of the reason why many people, in uniform and civies, in Pakistan don’t like Professor Hoodbhoy is that he was born into a minority sect.

    Many people dislike Quaid-e-Azam because he was also born in Professor Hoodbhoy’s sect.

    And that’s just one reason why Pakistan has not been able to live up to its potential, so far.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:24PM

    @ Maestro,
    This is pakistan WOW indeed true but how its gonna happend Mariage after Devorce…..

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  • anwar
    Oct 27, 2011 - 9:38PM

    India should just give sir gee a real Indian nationality

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  • Babloo
    Oct 28, 2011 - 3:29AM

    In india, even known anti-India seperatist kleaders from Kashmir, some of whom are known to be on payroll pf Pak agencies, are not prevented from visiting Pak consulate in Delhi. In fact they often go there, even for Iftar dinner.

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  • You Said It
    Oct 28, 2011 - 5:21AM

    Dr. Hoodbhoy, while you’re respected and welcome to visit India, the vast majority of your countrymen are not. As an Indian, I think this is just right.

    Terrorists may use other paths to get into India, but scouts such as David Headley have used the legal route. Also, thousands of Pakistanis on legal visas stay here illegally, never returning to Pak. A recent report showed this number is increasing. Add in virulent extremism and radicalization that afflicts middle-class Pakis, restricting visas is the right thing to do.

    My own family came from Sindh during the partition. While my grandparents and to lesser extent my parents desired to visit their old home, I have no such desire.

    Visits and people-people contacts are overrated. They do nothing to keep Pak from using state-sponsored terrorism. So there’s no reason to bemoan the end of people-people contacts – let this vanity die. If Pak cannot reform its behavior, the world MUST put its people through ignominy every time they travel outside its borders to remind them of it.

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  • You Said It
    Oct 28, 2011 - 5:29AM

    @Ilmana Fasih,
    You are concerned about your divided family. But you divided your family by moving to Pakistan by your own choice.

    India must be and is more concerned about Indian families who have lost loved ones to acts of terror instigated from Pakistan. There is no reunion for these families. Protecting Indians from Pakistan is far more important than your inconvenience. Besides being a Pakistani, it is important that everytime you try to leave Pak you are reminded that your country’s policies are wrong. If it is such a great inconvenience, you should have the rest of your family join you in Pakistan.

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  • optimist
    Oct 28, 2011 - 6:08AM

    Pakistani ISI doesn’t harass ordinary people who want to visit India.
    .
    Dr Hoodbhoy is on their ‘watch list’ (for wrong reasons!). His views are difficult for them to digest and they suspect he is on a mission (rightly or wrongly).
    .
    Things are quite similar in India. People under agencies watch are treated very badly. Same trend can be seen throughout the 3rd world!

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  • optimist
    Oct 28, 2011 - 6:16AM

    In INDIA all these things happen
    (probably on a much worse level) but there is a CLOUD OF SECRECY..
    Example is IPL Pakistani players issue!
    No one knows who was behind the decision that FORCED Shah Rukh/Pretty Zinta/Shilpa Shetty?
    Were they harrassed? threatened?? bribed?? who forced them? What was their authority?
    Officiall harrassement or unofficial harrassment???????? No answers in all these years!Recommend

  • Terrorising and true
    Oct 28, 2011 - 8:21AM

    @optimist:
    In PAKISTAN all these things happen at the worst level!
    Example is IPL Pakistani players issue!
    No one knows why is it that they want to play in a ‘Hindu mind’ India when people don’t want to see them here? Money is guess.. INDIAN MONEY!!!
    Shah Rukh/Pretty Zinta/Shilpa Shetty? – are movie stars (= business of Bollywood in Pakistan) who are more concerned of how much their movies earn in Pakistan than any thing else. So, publicity in whatever way is good for them. Got it smart fellow… Business!!!
    Enough answers i guess..

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  • Shaikh PhD
    Oct 28, 2011 - 9:46AM

    Our Mullahs, Generals and ISI agents should be given special super-express visas to visit Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and South Korea.

    As a student I shared a room with a student from Hong Kong. I had to endure his rants about the intellectual superiority of the Chinese race. The great achievements of the Chinese people. It was humiliating as I could not say thing really to defend ourselves

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  • Arjun
    Oct 28, 2011 - 10:28AM

    Shaikh PhD: So you admit he was right then? The problem with South Asia has been too much religion at the cost of scientific thought.

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  • Oct 28, 2011 - 12:06PM

    While i feel the pain of the good professor, i wish pakistani authorities grill ajmal kasab types instead before they come to india.
    the people who should be stopped are let go free and the people who should be honored are humiliated.

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  • Jameel
    Oct 28, 2011 - 4:36PM

    Dr, next time record all the conversation and put it on You Tube.

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  • Paras Vikmani
    Oct 28, 2011 - 4:40PM

    Well done ET for such an amazing article.

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  • optimist
    Oct 28, 2011 - 5:22PM

    @ Terrorising and True

    You have negated your own point. If Pakistan is so much valued for Bollywood starts (due to showbiz), they must have been PAINFULLY harassed!
    .
    Harrassment must have been too much for them that they decided not to select Pakistani players.
    .
    Unlike Dr Hoodbhoy, Indian ‘free press’ hasn’t been able to find the culprits (agencies)!!

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  • optimist
    Oct 28, 2011 - 5:26PM

    @ South Indian

    It is more of a cliche and perception. Pakistanis are treated with courtesy in the US because we go through their visa process.
    .
    I visited the US 3 times on Pakistani passport with some delay on first visit. No serious questioning just routine finger prints delay.
    .
    When I visited the US fourth time on British passport, I was questioned and they wanted to find out the reason I was visiting (white British were also stopped/questioned). The reason is ANYONE can buy a ticket and go there on British passport.
    .
    There is a great deal of courtesy in European/American airports and they don’t harass you like third world countries, even when they single you out (they claim its random!)

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  • optimist
    Oct 28, 2011 - 5:30PM

    @Dr Mishra:
    .
    I think you are victim of negative publicity that we Pakistanis are very good at.
    .
    I don’t know why your Pakistani friends dont visit Pakistan.
    .
    I have been in the UK for nearly 15 years and always found it hard to find an empty seat in planes flying to Lahore/Islamabad/Karachi. My Indian travel agent says: ‘you Pakistanis are very nationalist. When you get money, you build houses in Pakistan. When you think of holidays, you head to Pakistan even though Spain is much more beautiful and cheaper to visit’.
    .
    On the other hand, Indians are known to follow the west and become westernised and try to forget their roots. Search google and you will find articles that next generations of Indians in the US/Western world are even developing similar diseas like their western counter parts due to similar ‘lazy’ lifestyles!

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  • You Said It
    Oct 28, 2011 - 5:35PM

    @Hoodbhoy FAN
    Did you even read the article before jumping in with a loony comment? It was Pakistani security agencies who prevented him from even getting to the Indian consulate. India didn’t even have a chance to fully evaluate his visa application.

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  • optimist
    Oct 28, 2011 - 5:45PM

    People like Dr Hoodbhoy must have realised that if he wants to be praised by Indians, he must bow to them on each & every point.
    .
    While many Pakistanis have supported Dr Hoodbhoy, not one Indian has admitted that their government is wrong in making Visa process complex.

    Dr was thinking that he was making it a balanced article! My experience with Indians (on the net) shows that they only want to hear their state point of view!!!
    .
    I remember one Pakistani writer telling his Indian audience, ‘I admit my thousand mistakes, atleast you admit one that you made’. Alas, he failed. He lated mentioned this in his column. Recommend

  • ramanan
    Oct 28, 2011 - 5:48PM

    Already Kuwait has stopped issuing visa’s to Pakistanis.

    And if you are known to have visited pakistan in the previous one year, there is a problem in getting VISAs from other countries. Who wants to visit pakistan under these circumstances.

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  • Terrorising and true
    Oct 28, 2011 - 5:52PM

    @SouthIndian:
    My professor has apparently been to Pakistan on a conference visit to Islamabad (he is a professor and has apparently been a president of the SAARC society in the past) and he says that its not just with america, if you have visited Pakistan your visa application to any where else in the world will be scrutinized like hell and will carry a negative meaning…Recommend

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