March 2007 News

Geelani still waits for US visa

19 March 2007
The Daily Times
Iftikhar Gilani

New Delhi: The American embassy remains undecided on giving Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Geelani a visa to proceed to the United States for medical treatment. Even though Indian government released his travel papers, his documents are now stuck at the US embassy, which is awaiting orders from Washington. Geelani was summoned to the embassy on Friday and interviewed by US diplomats on various issues relating to his views on jihad, global developments, Islam and terrorism. He was told that the State Department was the competent authority to decide his visa application. Geelani has been diagnosed with kidney cancer and doctors here advised him to go for laser therapy in Cleveland, the only hospital in the world where precision laser therapy is available. The embassy officials have accepted the documents, interviewed him and then said the decision will be conveyed by Monday. They now want some more days, family sources said. Sources said Geelani has fallen in Americas bad books due to his rejection of the peace process between India and Pakistan. He is also a vocal critic of US foreign policy. The ailing Hurriyat leader has received offers of treatment from Brussels and the UK. But, in case the Americans refuse to give him a visa, he might be treated in India. Family members have identified TATA hospital in Mumbai and Apollo Hospital in Delhi for the treatment. Former Pakistan cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, who runs Shaukat Khanam Cancer Hospital in Lahore, last Friday urged the ailing leader to take a flight to Lahore. Geelani has so far remained non-committal on this offer. Geelani is 78 and his passport was impounded in 1981. Though his passport was given to him last month after the prime minister personally intervened, he may not be able to use it if the US denies permission. He was admitted to Apollo hospital last month where the cancer was detected in his only kidney. A chronic heart patient, he has undergone open heart surgery earlier and also has a pace-maker. One of his kidneys was removed when cancer was detected in it while he was in jail in 2002.


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