India speeds up visa for Iqbal’s grandson

Published May 22, 2015
Waleed Iqbal will represent his father Javed Iqbal at the function on May 29. .—Courtesy:
Waleed Iqbal will represent his father Javed Iqbal at the function on May 29. .—Courtesy:

NEW DELHI: The Modi government has approved in record time visa to Allama Iqbal’s grandson and two Pakistani scholars of his work to attend a celebration in Kolkata of the poet who penned India’s national song, reports said on Thursday.

Accordingly, Waleed Iqbal will represent his father Javed Iqbal at the function on May 29. Iqbal experts Rafiuddin Hashmi and Khalid Nadeem have also been given approval for the visit, which will see them attending functions also to celebrate Rabindranath Tagore, Iqbal’s contemporary and author of India’s national anthem.

“The Narendra Modi government has green-signalled Mamata Banerjee’s plans to bring to India family members of poet Muhammad Iqbal, who penned one of India’s favourite patriotic songs and championed Pakistan’s creation,” Kolkata’s The Telegraph reported on Thursday.

It said the Indian foreign office and the home ministry had approved the chief minister’s request to host Waleed Iqbal, the grandson of Pakistan’s poet laureate who in undivided India had composed the song Saare Jahaan Se Achchha.

“The approvals from the centre came in near-record time for a visit involving a citizen of Pakistan. The subcontinent siblings are notorious for delays - if not refusals - in granting visas to each other’s nationals,” the paper said.

“I am directed to convey ‘No Objection’ from political angle of the ministry of external affairs to the visit of the above-mentioned Pakistani nationals,” the foreign ministry wrote to G.G. Sarkar, Bengal additional secretary, on May 18 in a letter.

The Bengal government’s Urdu Academy is hosting a programme called Jashn-e-Iqbal(celebration of Iqbal) on May 29 and had initially hoped to host the poet’s son, Javed Iqbal, a retired Supreme Court judge in Pakistan.

But at 90, Javed Iqbal is unable to travel, and the family communicated to the state government that the poet’s grandson Waleed could instead attend.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2015

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