Two-year old Fatima Noor’s just-concluded India trip, apart from giving her a fresh lease of life, has had a wider impact. The spontaneous affection Indians showered on her also revived hopes of peace between the two countries.
Fatima together with her parents were given a touching farewell as they boarded the bus for Pakistan.
The child’s surgery was paid for by Indian donations and Fatima has since become a living symbol of peace hopes between the two neighbours.
'...Despite old rivalries, people of the two countries want to come closer' --Fatima's Father
“India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and despite old rivalries, people of the two countries want to come closer,” the child’s father, Nadeem Sajjad said.
Overwhelmed by the reception rolled out for his child, Sajjad has set up a “Friendship Trust” to facilitate heart surgeries for children from both countries.
Fatima underwent surgery for two holes in her heart in a specialist hospital in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.
Such heart surgeries are common in India, but the emotion that Fatima’s operation whipped up was unprecedented.
The hospital was flooded with gifts and get well cards for Fatima.
“The treatment we received was beyond our expectations, both Hindus and Muslims came to us showing extreme goodwill,” her grateful mother, Tayyaba Nadeem said.
Fatima had arrived in India by bus on July 11, the day the cross-border bus service between the two countries resumed after a 18-month break.
Her trip has been eventful in other ways too.
Last week, New Delhi announced the easing of visas for Pakistani children seeking medical treatment in India. Pakistan has responded by proposing greater cooperation in medicine with India.