The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scalpel path to Pak heart

New Delhi, Aug. 19: Indian doctors appear to have succeeded where the political leadership has failed: in bringing about a change in the Pakistani heart.

The numbers may not be impressive and only young hearts have been changed. But given the hostile relations between the nuclear neighbours, it is a good beginning.

After two-and-a-half-year-old Noor Fatima, the hearts of at least two more have been mended in a Bangalore hospital — 90-day-old Talha and nine-month-old Abdullah.

“They are expected to be discharged soon,” foreign ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna said today.

“Their medical treatment has been funded by the government,” he was quick to add.

Talha arrived in India with her father Naveed-ul-Haq, a student, mother Nida Baloch and two other relatives.

Abdullah came with his father Saeed, employed in a motor workshop in Pakistan’s Gujranwala on a monthly salary of Rs 4,000.

The children were treated at Narayana Hridayalaya in Bangalore, which has been receiving a steady stream of child heart patients since the border reopened.

Seeing how Indians had warmed to Noor Fatima — she received gifts and good wishes from people across the country — Delhi announced that it would pay for the treatment, travel and stay of 20 more Pakistani children.

Sarna said the response to the offer from Pakistan has been good and Delhi is now thinking of extending it to more children.

The leadership feels that there is a growing support among the Pakistani people for peace and normal relations with India. Keeping this in mind, Delhi has been stressing on strengthening people-to-people contact.

But South Block is sceptical whether the popular mood will have much of an impact on the Pervez Musharraf regime’s policy towards India.

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