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The Rediff Special/George Iype in Kochi
August 11, 2004
The hopes of an Indian doctor, who fell in love with a Pakistani and married him, now hinge on a little baby boy she delivered on August 3.
Dr Divya Dayanandan hopes the Pakistan government will grant her citizenship because she has given birth to her first child in Pakistan.
Divya, who hails from Kerala's Kayamkulam town, is the only daughter of Dayanandan and Vasantha. She fell in love with her classmate Aman Khan when they were studying medicine at the Lovo Medical School in Ukraine.
Khan abandoned his studies midway and returned to Pakistan, but their love grew over telephone calls.
Soon after getting her degree, Divya headed to Pakistan and married Khan in August 2003. She changed her name to Hafsa and converted to Islam and settled down with Khan in Mardan in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.
But marital bliss didn't last too long. Divya's application for Pakistani citizenship was rejected by the interior ministry and she was ordered to leave the country.
Khan challenged the order in the high court in the northwestern city of Peshawar and secured a stay. The case is expected to come up for hearing in coming weeks.
But their troubles are not restricted to an insensitive interior ministry. The couple also fear attacks from religious extremists given the state of Indo-Pak relations.
NWFP is one the most conservative provinces in Pakistan.
'I am deeply concerned why the Pakistan government has not granted citizenship to my wife even though it was granted routinely in the past. The law says the spouse of a Pakistani citizen is entitled to citizenship. Now I am told that living in Pakistan is very dangerous since I married a Hindu girl,' newspapers have quoted Khan as saying.
Back in India, Divya's mother is worried.
"I pray every day so that my daughter and her child come to Kerala with her husband. This is a better place to settle down for my daughter and son-in-law," Vasantha Dayanandan told rediff.com
Vasantha says her daughter went to Pakistan to get married without informing her family because she feared reprisals by Hindu fundamentalists in India.
"I am now eager to see my grandson. I talk to my daughter over the telephone often. I am sure nobody here [in India] will have any problems because my daughter married a Pakistani. I fear for her life if she stays in Pakistan," Vasantha said.
Vasantha has sent a request to External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh to take up her daughter's plight with the Pakistani government.
She has also approached local MP C S Sujatha, requesting her to meet Singh. "I wish my daughter returns and settles down here. I plead with her every day," says Vasantha.