The visit was to take place under the 1974 Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines and is a regular annual feature.
New Delhi/Islamabad: The Indo-Pak diplomatic row continued unabated as Pakistan alleged that India had denied visas to over 500 Pakistani pilgrims who wanted to visit the Ajmer dargah in Rajasthan to participate in the Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti.
Reacting to Pakistani allegations, the Indian government sources said that sometimes “such visits cannot take place in view of the prevailing circumstances and absence of requisite security clearances”.
The government sources said, “Such visits are facilitated and promoted and visas granted after following due processes. There have been instances in the past when such visits did not take place from both sides.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan, in a statement said, “Pakistan notes with deep disappointment the non-issuance of visas by India for the visit of the 503 Pakistani Zaireen (pilgrims) to participate in the Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer Sharif, India from 19-29 March 2018. The visit was to take place under the 1974 Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines and is a regular annual feature. As a result of this Indian decision, the Pakistani Zaireen have been deprived of the opportunity to participate in the Urs, which is of special significance. Earlier, 192 Pakistani Zaireen could not participate in the Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi from 1-8 January 2018, due to the non-issuance of visas by India.”
Islamabad further said, “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. It is again ironic that this was done on the occasion of Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti who has for centuries been the symbol of bringing communities closer to each other.”
“During 2017, despite Pakistan’s offer to send a special train, Indian delays had resulted in Sikh pilgrims from India being unable to participate in the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev and the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh,” the statement said.