‘Mufti tells Indian govt to stop ‘isolating’ trips to Pakistan
NEW DELHI: Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Wednesday advised the Indian government to stop the latest practice of issuing “except for Pakistan” passports to the Kashmiri youth.
Over the last two months, the Srinagar-based regional passport office has been issuing passports with a stamp bearing instructions that they are valid for all countries except Pakistan. On the conclusion of his four-day trip to New Delhi, Mufti said he had raised the issue at the highest level. At the time the two countries are discussing opening Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road and ther links, Kashmiris fear that they may not be able to travel to Azad Kashmir despite possessing valid travel documents. Passport Officer John S Shilshi has already shifted responsibility to intelligence officials. Those who are denied permission to travel to Pakistan are mostly young people, especially students. Sources said the decision aimed to prevent Kashmiri students from taking up studies in Pakistan under the SAARC exchange programme.
Earlier two Institute of Music and Fine Arts (IMFA) students of Kashmir University were denied permission to visit Pakistan under the SAARC exchange programme. Maria Shafi Bhat and Arshad Lone had won the South Asia Foundation (SAF) Madanjeet Singh Arts Scholarship for SAARC countries and had been enrolled to pursue higher studies at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore. SAF official Prof Jalees Ahmed Khan Tareen told them that their scholarships had been cancelled because they did not represent India. The two students were among 14 students selected to purse higher studies in Fine Arts. iftikhar gilani