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Pakistan rejects allegations of blocking Indian envoy's access to Sikh pilgrims

17 April 2018

Pakistan is wrong to have denied consular access to Indian pilgrims on a recent trip by Sikh devotees to Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Rawalpindi.

In its protest to the Pakistan foreign ministry, India reiterated that the code of conduct (for the treatment of diplomatic and consular personnel in India and Pakistan) of 1992, recently reaffirmed by both countries, was not being followed. "Our team of officials was given not permission to meet the pilgrims and they were given no explanation", said an official in Delhi.

The high commissioner emphasizing upon the faithful implementation of the bilateral protocol, said the people from different faiths usually wait and prepare for their religious journeys throughout the year. In fact, in an expansive gesture, India last Diwali day chose to immediately grant medical visas for all the deserving cases that were pending on that day.

"The matter relating to the Protocol team's access on the arrival of the Jatha at Wagha was expeditiously resolved through the intervention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs".

India on Monday summoned Pakistan's Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi and lodged a strong protest over attempts to raise the Khalistan issue during the visit of Sikh pilgrims to that country while asking it to immediately cease all such activities aimed at undermining India's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The External Affairs Ministry said that on April 14, the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, was not allowed to visit the Gurdwara Panja Sahib.

"We deeply regret this Indian attempt to generate controversy around the visits of Sikh pilgrims and to vitiate the environment of bilateral relations", Faisal said. The diplomats of the two countries had made claims and counter-claims about harassment in each other's country.

The Sikh pilgrims are visiting Pakistan as part of the Baisakhi celebrations which mark the beginning of the Punjabi New Year. In March, Pakistan protested after India refused to grant visas to more than 500 Pakistani pilgrims to attend an annual religious congregation marking the death anniversary of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer Sharif, reported The Times of India. The MEA had called it an "inexplicable diplomatic discourtesy" by Pakistan, holding that these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

Pakistan rejects allegations of blocking Indian envoy's access to Sikh pilgrims