Pakistan has expressed ‘deep disappointment’ over the non-issuance of visas by India to 503 pilgrims from the country who wanted to participate in the urs of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer Sharif.
The visit, from 19-29 March 2018, was to take place under the 1974 Pakistan-India Protocol on visits to religious shrines and is a regular annual feature.
In his weekly Foreign Office briefing, the spokesperson highlighted how 192 Pakistani pilgrims could not participate in the urs of Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi earlier this year, which was also due to the non-issuance of visas by India.
“During 2017, despite Pakistan’s offer to send a special train, Indian delays had resulted in Sikh yatrees from India being unable to participate in the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev, and the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh,” FO Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said.
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“Similarly, in February 2018, Pakistan had made all the arrangements for the visit of 173 Katas Raj Pilgrims, who, regrettably, were forced to withdraw their applications due to non-issuance of necessary clearance by the Ministry of External Affairs of India,” he added.
He further said that besides being violative of the Bilateral Protocol of 1974 and the basic human right to religious freedom, such measures also “undermine the efforts aimed at improving the environment, increasing people-to-people contacts and normalising relations between the two countries”.
The spokesperson remarked that Pakistan considered it ironic how India was using the occasion of the urs, for centuries been the symbol of bringing communities closer to each other, to spread divisive policies.
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FO spokesperson sought to dismiss the rumors regarding the recent visit of PM Abbasi to the United States, where he met with senior officials from the Trump administration, including Vice President Pence.
According to the FO, the meeting provided an opportunity for the two countries to exchange views on bilateral relations, the regional situation and Afghanistan and is part of the regular interactions between the two countries.
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“Pakistan has been consistently reminding its US interlocutors about series of successful military operations undertaken by the Armed Forces of Pakistan in the border areas with Afghanistan,” Dr Faisal said.
Expressing satisfaction over the scope of US operation in Afghanistan, FO spokesperson stated that although recent actions were appreciative, there was a need for the US forces to do more to reign in terrorists who were operating from inside Afghanistan.
He also condemned the Indian occupation forces in the Kashmir valley for terrorising innocent people.
“Miseries of the people in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) have increased every day, as the Indian forces continue to terrorise innocent civilians. We condemn the Indian excesses and call upon world human rights defenders to stand up for the Kashmiris in IOK,” the foreign office spokesperson reaffirmed.
FO also condemned Pakistan as ‘reprehensible’ the recent wave of suicide attacks in the neighboring country, saying Pakistan was grieved at the loss of precious and innocent lives in brutal acts of terrorism.
“We express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the bereaved families and pray for the speedy recovery of the injured,” FO spokesperson concluded.
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