At a time when the Indo-Pak relations continue their decades-old path of improvement and deterioration, the people to people contacts continue to move forward, yielding heart warming results. Mohammed Siddique reports.
The name of the beneficiary of the growing bonhomie is Khadeeja, a 20-month-old baby from Karachi. A born deaf, the daughter of a middle class couple from Pakistan will undergo a major surgery at Hyderabad's Apollo Hospital in a couple of days in which doctors will put a Cochlear implant in the baby enabling her to hear and consequently, speak.
The Rs 15 lakh surgery could be possible thanks to a helping hand extended by a non-governmental organisation in Hyderabad, Society to Aid the Hearing Impaired. The baby's father Adnan Adeel came in contact with the organisation while looking for help on the internet.
"I contacted many NGOs seeking their help because the surgery is unaffordable for an ordinary family like ours. SAHI was the only organisation which came forward to help us," said a visibly moved Adnan, an electrical engineer employed with a private firm in Pakistan.
Shahar Bano, Khadeeja's mother, said that the way they were being treated in India was an unforgettable experience.
Sunita Reddy, a 'SAHI'office bearer said that her organization has helped several hearing impaired children but this was the first time that they were helping a baby from across the border.
"All our members unanimously decided to provide this implant, keeping in view the fact that apart from helping the girl, it will also generate a lot of goodwill between the two countries. We are very happy," she said.
The implant, which costs $20,000 (about Rs 10 lakh) was donated by an anonymous donor and the hospital expenses of about Rs 5 lakh will have to be borne by the family.
Adeel came to India with lots of misgivings and apprehensions.
"We were told that journey to India will not be easy and we will face a lot of problems because India is seen as a rival country. But nothing of that sort happened. Nobody questioned us at the immigration counter. On the contrary they helped us at every step," he said.
Adeel said that he was grateful to the people of India. "I can never forget this. Our daughter has got a new life. I will take the message of love and peace from India, which I intend to propagate. I want more and more people of the two countries to meet each other."
Adeel and his family was the cynosure of all eyes at the India-Pakistan Joint celebrations on the occasion of their independence days in Hyderabad on Tuesday, organised by the Confederation of Voluntary Associations and many other organisations.
"The celebrations have been organised in several cities of both the countries because of the efforts of the civil society. The purpose is to promote friendship and peace between the two countries. It is yielding good results," said Dr Mazhar Hussain, director, COVA.
The event in which the students from schools and colleges were given prizes for their essays, paintings and slogans on India-Pakistan friendship, evoked protest from parties such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bharatiya Janata Party and other outfits. A handful of protestors tried to barge in to the venue of the celebrations but the police rrested them.
The activists alleged that the organisers were hoisting the Pakistani flag. But the organisers strongly denied it and said that there was no hoisting of flag of any country.
This is second time that a Pakistani baby suffering from serious ailment has gotten free medical help in Hyderabad. In October 2004, Batool, another Pakistani baby suffering from a serious liver disease underwent a free liver transplant at the Global Hospital in Hyderabad.
The hospital charged the family only for the medicine. The surgery was performed by the world renowned liver transplant surgeon Dr Rella from King's College Hospital London.
Image: Baby Khadeeja with here mother