The Pakistani High Commission has issued a three-month visa to 92-year-old Indian woman Reena Chhibar as a goodwill gesture. Ms. Chhibar arrived in Pakistan on Saturday.
As she crossed the Wagah-Attari border to see her ancestral home in Rawalpindi, she called on the governments of both countries to work together to ease visa restrictions and make travel easier for their citizens.
Reena reflected on a time when the community in Pindi was thriving and diverse. “There were friends from all sorts of backgrounds, including Muslims,” she said, recalling that “even our house-help was a mix of different people”. In 1947, her family moved to India after the partition. Though she was only 15 years old at the time, she said the memories of her homeland are still with her after all these years.
Reena applied for a visa to visit Pakistan in 1965, but did not receive permission due to high tensions between the two neighbors. Despite this, she still managed to visit Lahore to watch a match between Pakistan and England, as Pakistan issued visas to Indians to watch the match.
Reena expressed her desire to visit her ancestral home on social media in 2021. Sajjad Haider, a Pakistani citizen, contacted her in response and sent her images of the house. In a video on social media, she claimed that she had applied for a visa to visit the place in 2021 but was rejected.
The 92 year-old then turned to social media and expressed her desire to visit Pakistan. She also tagged the now Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar in her post.
According to Reena, the minister immediately directed the Pakistani High Commission to issue her a visa. Soon after, she was contacted by the High Commission in New Dehli. After meeting with the Commission’s Aftab Hassan Khan, she was issued a visa for 90 days.
Reena Chhibar arrived in Pakistan via Wagah border on Saturday morning, her eyes became moist as she crossed the Pak-India border, from Wagah border, Reena left for Rawalpindi where she will visit her ancestral home Prem Niwas and her childhood friends from the neighborhood.
It is worth noting that Pakistan and India had agreed to extend visas to citizens over 60 years of age at the border, though this agreement has not been implemented.