New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Saturday that India is completing the necessary formalities to bring back Gita, a hearing and speech-impaired Indian woman stranded in Karachi, to India.
“We are completing the necessary formalities to bring Gita back to India,” she tweeted.
Sushma also tweeted that during the past few days “four families from Punjab, Bihar, Jharkhand and UP have claimed Gita as their daughter” and that she has requested the chief ministers of the respective states to “verify and report”.
“Gita conveyed to Indian High Commissioner by gestures that they are seven brothers and sisters. She also conveyed that she had visited a temple with her father. Then she wrote down ‘Vaishno Devi’. With these details, please help locate Gita’s family,” the minister tweeted.
On Tuesday, Sushma had announced that the government will bring Gita back to India after Indian High Commissioner T.C.A. Raghavan met Gita at the Edhi Foundation in Karachi where the young woman has been staying for the past 15 years after she accidentally strayed into Pakistani territory.
Sushma had requested the envoy to go to Karachi to meet Gita.
Leading Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney, who has been closely pursuing Gita’s case, had travelled to India in October 2012 with photographs of the woman but was unable to make progress.
In 2003, Gita — then 11-years old — was spotted by the Pakistan Rangers in Lahore, after she strayed across the border.
The girl was handed over to the Edhi Foundation, a social welfare organisation in Pakistan.
Bilquis Edhi, who runs the Edhi Foundation, has named her Gita.
According to reports, Geeta is a vegetarian and has set up a small “mandir” in her room at the Edhi Foundation where she prays to Indian gods and goddesses. She also observes the Ramadan fast.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani and visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have agreed to set up a joint border “reaction force” to counter terrorism, Iranian state media reported.
“We agreed to create a joint rapid reaction force at the borders for combatting terrorism,” Rohani was quoted as saying on April 22 during a joint press conference with Khan, who was officially welcomed in the Iranian capital earlier in the day.
The announcement comes following tensions between the two countries who have in recent months accused each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.
“Pakistan will not allow any militant group to operate” from its soil, Khan said at the press conference while adding that the problem of terrorism was “increasing differences” between both countries.
“So it was very important for me to come here and come with our security chief that we resolve this issue,” Khan said.
Citing a militant attack on Pakistani security forces in Baluchistan on April 18, he said, Pakistan’s security chief will be meeting his Iranian counterpart on April 22 to discuss how both countries can cooperate in not allowing their soil to be used by militant groups.
Stressing that “no third country” could harm Iran-Pakistan ties, an apparent reference to the United States, Rohani said Tehran was ready to boost trade and business ties with Islamabad.
For his part, Khan said his visit to Tehran aimed to “find ways to increase trade and cooperation…in energy and other areas,” noting that two-way trade was “very limited.”
Khan arrived in Iran on April 21 on his first official visit to the Islamic republic for talks set to focus on strengthening bilateral ties, “fighting terrorism, and safeguarding borders,” Iranian state media reported.
The two countries have in recent months accused each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.
The two-day trip started with a stopover in the holy city of Mashhad, where Khan visited the shrine of Imam Reza, who is revered by Shi’ite Muslims.
The visit comes a day after Pakistan asked Iran to take action against terrorist groups believed to be behind the killing of 14 Pakistani soldiers earlier this month.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on April 20 that 15 gunmen wearing military uniforms ambushed a bus in southwestern Balochistan Province on April 18, killing 14 Pakistani Army personnel.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a letter to the Iranian government that the assailants came from an alliance of three Baluch terrorist organizations based in Iran.
Qureshi told reporters that Khan would take up the matter with Iranian authorities.
Earlier this year, Iran called on Pakistan to take action against a militant group behind a deadly attack on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).