India refuses 192 pilgrims’ visa

Staff Report
Sunday - December 31, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan regrets the last minute postponement and non-issuance of visas by India, for the visit of 192 pilgrims to participate in the urs of hazrat Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia (RA) in Delhi from January 1-8, foreign office (FO), in a statement on Saturday, said.

According to detail, the visit was to take place under the provisions of 1974 Pakistan-India protocol on visits to religious shrines and is a regular, annual feature.

As a result of this Indian decision, the Pakistani pilgrims will be deprived of the opportunity to participate in the urs, which is of special significance.

This is unfortunate and runs counter to the letter and spirit of the 1974 protocol and objective of people-to-people contacts.

Earlier this year, 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 Sikh guru Arjan Dev and death anniversary of maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Beside being in violation of the bilateral protocol and 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 ironic that this was done on the occasion of urs of hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya who was a symbol of bringing communities closer to each other, FO statement concluded.