Dubai: As Pakistan and India mark their 71st Independence Days on August 14 and 15, a visually impaired man who has been living in the UAE since 1968 is faced with an unlikely identity crisis.
An Indian by origin and a Pakistani passport-holder for over 20 years, Abdul Razzaque from Ajman said he is in a spot after his Pakistani passport was “confiscated” by the Consulate General of Pakistan in Dubai, even as he has been trying in vain to get a new Indian passport.
“I have been living in the UAE for nearly five decades. I worked as a driver at a public office for 23 years and had an excellent track record,” claimed Razzaque.
He said he belonged to Kodinar in India’s Gujarat and arrived in the UAE as an Indian passport holder. But things changed when he married a Pakistani girl following a visit to Pakistan in 1980. “My wife and I lived in the UAE and had six children together. In the early 90s, I got myself a Pakistani passport. But 18 years into the marriage, my wife and I parted ways. While she was in Pakistan with the children, I remained in Dubai.”
Razzaque said he remarried in 2000, this time to an Indian woman, who had come to the UAE from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh the previous year. “We had six children too and life was good to us. But my health began to fail me and I lost my eyesight. I had to stop working as a result, but thankfully my wife had a job, so we could manage to keep the house running.”
Even as the family was trying to come to terms with their new reality, things took a curious turn when Razzaque wanted to get his Pakistan national identity card renewed three years ago.
“I went to the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai to get it done but both my identity card and passport were taken away,” he claimed, adding that he had a letter from the Consulate stating that the documents had been “confiscated”.
“Ever since, I have no official papers. I am desperate for help. My Pakistani passport has been confiscated. My attempts to get a new Indian passport from the Consualte General of India in Dubai have not met with any success. And to top it all, I have been overstaying in the UAE as my residency visa has expired,” Razzaque said.
In a mess
He said he wanted to go back to India in order to get his eyes treated.
“I have close relatives in India. My family here in the UAE is in a mess as their visas are dependent on mine. They are suffering because of me. I have young daughters and a son still in school, and their future looks bleak.”
Pakistani and Indian Consulates respond:
XPRESS queries on Abdul Razzaque’s claims elicited prompt and detailed responses from both the Consulate General of Pakistan and Consulate General of India, in Dubai.
The Consulate General of Pakistan confirmed that Razzaque had approached the mission in Dubai for renewal of his ID card.
“During the course of interview, he told (us) that he is of Indian origin with all his family members holding Indian nationality. He, after marrying a Pakistani national, processed his Pakistani ID card in 1992 and subsequently his passport. When he was requested to provide his Naturalisation Certificate so that his claim could be verified, he could not.
“As per rules of the Government of Pakistan, when you acquire nationality by way of marriage through naturalisation, you receive the Naturalisation Certificate as an evidentiary document. Moreover, on further investigation, it surfaced that there was a difference in his particulars as well.”
According to the Pakistan Consulate, the differences showed up on four counts. While Razzaque’s Pakistani passport carried his year of birth as 1966, place of birth Karachi, permanent address Karachi and name of father Ali Mohammed Bapoo, his earlier Indian passport had different entries: year of birth 1959, place of birth Kodinar in Gujarat, permanent address Bombay, India and father’s name Ali Babubhai.
The Pakistan Consulate said, “This raised further suspicion. As the issue pertains to a matter of acquiring the nationality of a country by dubious means, which may entail serious security repercussions, his Pakistani passport was withheld at the Consulate for further probe into the matter at the concerned quarters before its final disposal.”
The Consulate General of India also issued a statement.
In reply to the XPRESS query, Prem Chand, Consul (Passport), said, “It is understood from your message that (Razzaque) had obtained Pakistani nationality in 1994 and he renounced his Indian citizenship on his own by obtaining foreign nationality. As he is a foreign national married to an Indian national, he can apply for Indian citizenship for which there is a requirement of continuous stay of seven years in India before applying for Indian citizenship. In cases of grant of citizenship to foreign nationals, Government of India takes decisions keeping in view the security and integrity of our country and also as per the existing rules.
“However, in case he needs to visit India for medical treatment, he may apply for medical visa in the Consulate. We are willing to help him as per rules and regulations of Government of India for grant of a medical visa to foreign nationals,” Chand added.
Know of any similar stories? How were they resolved?
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