The Pakistani High Commission, as a goodwill gesture, issued a three-month visa to a 92-year-old Indian woman, Reena Chhibar, who reached Pakistan on Saturday to see her ancestral home, media reports said.
As she made her way through the Wagah-Attari border to see her ancestral home, Prem Niwas, in Rawalpindi, she urged the governments of both the countries to “work together” to ease visa restrictions to make “coming and going easy for us”, the Express Tribune reported.
Reena reminisced of a multi-cultural diverse community that was thriving in ‘Pindi before the Partition as she was driven from the border to Rawalpindi. “My siblings had friends who would come over to our house from various communities, including Muslims,” she said, remembering that “our house-help was also a diverse mix of people”.
In 1947, after the partition, her family moved to India. She was 15 years old at the time, and though over 75 years have passed since then, she said she “could not remove her ancestral home, her neighbourhood and the streets from her heart”, Express Tribune reported.
Reena had applied for visa in 1965 to visit Pakistan, but she says she could not acquire permission amid high tensions due to the war between the two neighbours. She still managed to visit Lahore to watch a match between Pakistan and England as Pakistan had issued visas to Indians to watch the match.
Reena claims that she had expressed the desire to visit her ancestral home on social media in 2021, upon which a Pakistani citizen named Sajjad Haider contacted her 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 which was rejected, Express Tribune reported.
The 92 year-old then turned to social media and expressed her desire to visit Pakistan. She also tagged the now Pak 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 and soon after, she was contacted by the high commission in New Delhi. After meeting with the Commission’s Aftab Hassan Khan, she was issued a visa for 90 days.
As Reena arrived in Pakistan via Wagah border on Saturday morning, her eyes became moist. She left for Rawalpindi where she will visit her ancestral home Prem Niwas and her childhood friends from the neighbourhood, Express Tribune reported.