Long-term Indian visas for Pak Xians

Initiative to enable Pak Goans to return to India

The Union Home Ministry recently added Christians and Buddhists to the list of Indian-origin minorities in Pakistan that would be allowed long-term visas (LTVs). Only Hindus and Sikhs were earlier entitled to this privilege.

In a letter addressed to Faleiro recently, the Joint Secretary (Foreigners) G V V Sharma said that after examining the request from the Goa NRI Commission, the government had decided to also include Buddhists and Christians from Pakistan in the category eligible for LTVs. The decision was being conveyed to all state governments, he said.

This significant decision will greatly facilitate the process for a large number of Pakistani Goans who want to return to Goa to acquire Indian nationality, Faleiro said. The former minister who was instrumental in convincing Home Minister P Chidambaram to extend the LTV entitlement for Pakistani Goans said Christians constitute a significant minority community in Pakistan. A large number of Goan Christians had settled in Karachi in pursuit of jobs long before the Partition. Many of them now want to return to Goa. Many have already migrated out of Pakistan. A number of Pakistani Goans who have been living in Goa before December 31, 2009 would now qualify for Indian nationality, Faleiro said.

In his website goansofpakistan.org businessman Menin Rodrigues writes from Karachi: “The early Goans came here brimming with hope, conquered the very fabric of the society by their sheer hardwork and resolve to succeed, wielding great influence on the local community.”

When Pakistan was carved out in 1947, the prominence of Goans, he says, “was evident from the fact that one of Karachi’s first elected Mayors was Manuel Misquita; it was a time when the city’s judiciary, the armed forces, police,  hospitals, educational institutions, 
railways and the world of music and sports were ruled by this law-abiding community.”
Some 10,000 odd Goans still live in Karachi, but they are today “living in obscurity and marginalised due to the influx of cultures and communities who have no knowledge of the city’s glorious past,” regrets the Pak-based businessman.

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