As the Indian forces are slaying Pakistani civilians in unprovoked shelling along the working boundary, some Indian citizens are trying to save the life of a teenage girl from Pakistan who is admitted in a hospital in Mumbai.
Sixteen-year-old Saba Tariq Ahmed from Karachi is afflicted with Wilson’s disease, a rare genetic disorder, and Indian citizens are raising money for her treatment, disregarding the tension between the two countries.
Saba needs 1 million Indian rupees (approx Rs1.57 million), and our neighbours have so far contributed 400,000 rupees (Rs626,976).
Among the donors are Jayesh Vora and Mehul Doshi, who have donated 200,000 rupees (Rs313,559) out of their own pockets to Saba’s family.
Talking to The Express Tribune over the phone, Vora said he read in the newspaper that the family required money. “I have told Saba’s mother that we won’t let them go until Saba is fine.”
He said he wanted to convey a message to Pakistani citizens that Indians were just like them and that they were with them in their time of need, and to dispel the preconceived notions that ‘all Indians are like this and all Pakistanis are like that’.
Vora, a businessman, often goes to Dubai, where he has witnessed Pakistanis and Indians on good terms. Recalling an incident, he said that once when he was unable to drive, he called a Pakistani driver to come to Dubai and take him and his wife home. “He was in Sharjah but he reached us in only 20 minutes.”
Islamabad and New Delhi can call off their talks, but Vora believes that person-to-person contact should always remain among the two countries, which is stronger than any diplomatic ties.
Saba’s mother Nazia told The Express Tribune that she had received immense love and support from the Indians. “I’ve never felt that I’m away in another country. They always make me feel at home here (in India).”
Resident of Gulistan-e-Jauhar in Karachi, Nazia said Saba was a normal girl and had cleared her matriculation exams with ‘A’ grade.
However, a year ago she showed symptoms of the disease and was later diagnosed with it. She believes intermarriages in the family could have caused the disease. “There is no proper treatment of this disease in Pakistan, so we had to bring her to India.”
Nazia and her daughter first went to India back in May for 45 days. The mother said: “I was scared, as Indians don’t like us much. But my views changed. They are very loving.”
The mother and daughter arrived in India again last week. From getting her admitted in the hospital to taking care of other needs, Nazia is thankful to the Indians. “I hope more people contribute so that my girl can come back home fit and fine.”
Saba’s doctor, Dr Abha Nagral of the Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, where Saba is being treated, said the medicines needed for her treatment needed to be imported from the UK and the US, which was the reason for the delay in and the cost of treatment. “Her condition is stable but there’s room for improvement.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2015.