“Lost Touch With Family in Pak”: My Painful Memories of Partition

70 years after the partition of India and Pakistan, several families remain separated by the border.

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Seventy years after the partition of India and Pakistan, the family of Associated Press reporter Muneeza Naqvi remains torn in two – separated by what has become an impassable border.

On both sides of the border live hundreds of thousands of families like Naqvi's, described for visa purposes, as divided Muslim families. When the British finally left the Indian subcontinent in mid-August 1947, after nearly 200 years, they left it split in two.

Naqvi's grandmother Fahmida Hasan Zaidi, aged 86, lives in New Delhi. However, her three sisters and four brothers live in cities across Pakistan. Their adult relationships have been largely sustained by memories of their childhood in Uttar Pradesh and too-brief visits made complicated by impossible visa rules.

"We are a divided family where my grandparents, my grandmother's siblings, all live in Pakistan now," Naqvi said.

Naqvi's family did not make those terrible journeys through the violence and bloodshed that followed Partition. Travel was at first relatively easy – that changed in 1971, when the South Asian rivals fought their third war in what was then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

For several years after that, all visits ceased. It would be almost eight years since Zaidi has now seen her sisters and mother again. When her oldest daughter, Naqvi's mother, got married in Lucknow, no Pakistani relative could get a visa to come.

"The distance was very painful," Zaidi said.

The extreme diplomatic closures of the mid-70s eventually eased, but travel never became as easy as it once was. There are no tourist visas between the two countries. With visas, divided families can visit each other's countries once a year for one month.

They can visit three cities, reporting your entry and exit each time to local police and they must visit them in the order listed on the visa application.

(With inputs from AP)

Video Editor: Sandeep Suman

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