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Sikh Pilgrims' Consular Access Row Escalates; India, Pakistan Remain at Loggerheads

Sikh Pilgrims' Consular Access Row Escalates; India, Pakistan Remain at Loggerheads

It said that the Evacuee Trust Property Board had advised the Indian High Commission against attending Baisakhi celebrations at Gurdwara Panja Sahib because it had "noticed strong resentment among segments of Sikh yatris.protesting the release in India of some film on Baba Guru Nanak Devji".

Deputy high commissioner of Pakistan in New Delhi Syed Haider Shah was summoned Monday to the Ministry of External Affairs and a strong protest was lodged at attempts by Islamabad to incite Sikh pilgrims to raise the issue of Khalistan on their return to India.

For decades, Pakistan has made excellent arrangements to facilitate the visits of Sikh Yatrees from across the world, including India, and extended protocol, reception, security, medical and other facilities which was consistent with its religious ethos and traditions of hospitality.

An independent rights group in Pakistan said April 16 that the country has failed to make progress on several issues over the past year, ranging from forced disappearances to women's rights and protection of religious minorities. "Pakistan was called upon to immediately stop all such activities that were aimed at undermining India's sovereignty, territorial integrity and incitement of disharmony in India". However, this year, the consular team has been denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims. "Our team of officials was given not permission to meet the pilgrims and they were given no explanation".

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




"Considering an emotionally charged environment and the possibility of any untoward situation, the ETPB authorities contacted the Indian High Commission officials and suggested cancellation of the visit", Faisal claimed. The Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria was also prevented from meeting them and wishing them on Baisakhi.

"Freedom of expression and freedom of association is under attack, except for those who carry the religious banner", commission spokesperson I.A. Rehman said at the release of the report, which accused Pakistani authorities of ignoring "intolerance and extremism".

"Earlier, journalists were attacked, abducted or killed - now channels like Geo News, and even news articles are going missing", said Siddiqui, who was the Islamabad bureau chief of a New Delhi-based TV network. According to External Affairs Ministry.

A statement attributed to Faisal said, "It is ironic for the government of India to accuse Pakistan of violating the 1974 Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, whereas it is the Indian government that has, in clear violation of the protocol, twice within this year denied visas to Pakistani pilgrims on occasions of Urs of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Ajmeri and scuttled at least three visits of Sikh and Hindu pilgrims to religious shrines in Pakistan since June 2017".


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