ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Friday summoned a top Indian diplomat to express concern over the non-issuance of visas to Pakistani pilgrims who intended to participate in the urs of a great mystic saint of the subcontinent.
The event marks the second spate of the newly found hostility between the two South Asian neighbours soon after the exchange of bitter statements between the two sides on Daud Ibrahim.
FO spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam Khan said on Friday that some 500 pilgrims applied for Indian visa to attend the urs celebrations of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti Ajmeri, at Ajmer in India, but they were denied visas. The urs celebrations started on April 25, and are to culminate on May 10.
The Indian deputy high commissioner, the FO spokesperson said, was summoned on Friday, and a protest was lodged over the denial of visas. “The visits to religious shrines in Pakistan and India are governed under the Bilateral Protocol on Visits to the Religious Shrines, 1974,” she said.
“The Foreign Office conveyed its deep disappointment and concern over the denial of visas by the Indian government. This is the fourth time that visas have been denied to Pakistani pilgrims in the last one year. This is not only against the bilateral agreement, but also runs contrary to the efforts towards normalising ties between the two countries and the spirit of people-to-people contacts,” Tasnim Aslam added.
Prior to this episode, India and Pakistan looked to have locked horns last week after India’s premiership probable from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Narendra Modi told a television channel that he would bring underworld don Daud Ibrahim to India from Pakistan if he came into power.
“Irresponsible” was the reaction of Pakistan’s FO over Modi’s statement “No one can cast an evil eye on Pakistan,” Tasnim Aslam told a private television channel, while Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan lashed out at the top BJP leader for making, what he described as, an “irresponsible and shameful” statement.
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