Ashes of Hindus in Pakistan await immersion in Ganga

Karachi: Marked and stored sometimes for years at the only cremation ground in Karachi, the ashes of over a hundred Pakistani Hindus await to be immersed in the River Ganga.

An estimated four million Hindus live in Muslim-majority Pakistan. For many of them whose ancestors remained in the country during the partition, the last wish to cross the border into India gathers dust, a report by Arab News points out.

Stored in a small room built next to a dilapidated cremation ground in Pakistan’s port city are the remains of Atam Parkash, a Pakistani-Hindu businessman who died of cancer in May this year. Parkash had wished that his ashes be taken to Haridwar to be immersed in the River Ganga.

“My brother asked that his asthi (ashes) be scattered in the River Ganga, but I don’t know if we will ever be able to fulfil his wish,” his brother, Sunny Ghansham, told Arab News.

For both Indians and Pakistanis, obtaining visas is a tedious process, owing to the tensions between the two countries. The visa requirements have been strict due to the suspicions on two sides. While a new visa agreement between the two to ease these rules was passed back in 2012, the years of heightened mistrust and hostility since has changed less.

Pakistan’s decision to downgrade diplomatic ties, stopping all transport links, banning bilateral trade with India in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370, as well as the absolute refusal to resolve the disputes bilaterally have made the matter worse.

With diplomatic courtesies largely suspended, relations between India and Pakistan are only getting tenser. New Delhi has expressed concerns on the threat posed by cross border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, and accused it of smuggling terrorists to Kashmir to fuel the insurgency in the region.

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