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Pakistani Girl Receives Heart Surgery in India


Indian doctors have operated on a two-year-old Pakistani girl who traveled to India last week for lifesaving heart surgery.

Doctors in Bangalore performed a six-hour operation on two-year-old Noor Fatima, who had two holes in her heart.

Pediatric consultant R.K. Sharma is optimistic about her recovery.

"The child is quite stable, hopefully she will be all right and go home quickly," said Dr. Sharma.

The baby girl traveled with her parents last Friday on the first bus to run between the Pakistani city of Lahore and the Indian capital New Delhi in 18 months.

Doctors in Pakistan had advised her to go to Bangalore for specialized treatment.

Since her arrival in India, Noor Fatima has received widespread attention. Newspapers have carried her story on their front pages, and television stations have monitored her progress. Hundreds of people have sent their good wishes to her parents, and offered money for her treatment. School children in Bangalore prayed for her recovery.

Many ordinary resident of Bangalore told reporters they were doing the same.

"I pray for the child, for quick recovery," said one resident.

It is a rare "feel-good" story, with goodwill replacing the usual acrimony that marks relations between the two countries.

Noor's father, Nadeem Sajjad, says the family has been flooded with phone calls, flowers, and cards, and thanks Indians for their good wishes and generosity.

Mr. Sajjad says he does not need the money offered, but suggests it could be used to establish a trust for children in need in both countries.

Many people in India and Pakistan have urged their governments to allow freer travel across the border. They say this will create a constituency for peace among common people, and make it easier for politicians to overcome decades of distrust, and take bolder initiatives for peace.

At the moment, the bus service is the only mode of travel between the two countries. India and Pakistan have agreed to resume air and train links, but no date has been established. Transportation links were cut-off after India blamed Pakistan-backed militants for an attack on its Parliament in December 2001.

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