Pak prevents Sikh pilgrims from meeting Indian High Commissioner, India protests

Central cabinet of MMA completed Liaqat Baloch

Sikh pilgrims arrived in Pakistan to commemorate the 319th Baisakhi festival that celebrates and welcomes spring, and marks the harvest of Rabi crops. "The High Commission was thus prevented from performing basic consular and protocol duties for Indian citizens".

However, in the run-up to the main function, the ETPB authorities noticed strong resentment among segments of Sikh Yatrees, gathered there from different parts of the world, protesting the release in India of some film on Baba Guru Nanak Devji.

The Indian government has lodged a strong protest and expressed it's disappointment over Pakistan's decision of not allowing the Sikh pilgrims from meeting the India High Commissioner and talk to the staff.

A group of around 1800 Sikh pilgrims travelled to Pakistan on April 12 to visit some of the most revered Sikh Shrines in Pakistan, according to an existing bilateral agreement.

The statement issued by the MEA has also detailed a snub to the Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, who was turned away while on his way to meet the pilgrims at the shrine on the "grounds of security concerns".

The factual position was that the Secretary of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) had extended an invitation to the High Commissioner of India to attend the main function of Baisakhi and Khalsa Janamdin at the Gurdwara Panja Sahib on April 14, 2018, Faisal said.

The fresh incidents came, over two weeks after India and Pakistan agreed to resolve matters related to treatment of diplomats after envoys of the two countries made claims and counter-claims about harassment of each other's diplomats.

As per standard practice the Indian high commission's consular team is attached with visiting pilgrims, to perform consular and protocol duties, like helping out in medical or family emergencies.

The team was first stopped from meeting the pilgrims on April 12 during their arrival at Wagah Railway Station.

The Foreign Office said we deeply regret this Indian attempt to generate controversy around the visits of Sikh pilgrims and to vitiate the environment of bilateral relations.

On 14th of this month, there was no scheduled meeting with pilgrims.

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