ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Friday summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner to the foreign office and lodged a protest over denial of visas to 500 pilgrims who wanted to attend Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer Sharif.
The foreign office conveyed its deep disappointment and concern over the denial of visas by the Indian government.
“This is the fourth time in the last one year that visas have been denied to Pakistani pilgrims. 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,” the foreign office added. The visits to religious shrines in Pakistan and India are governed under the Bilateral Protocol on Visits to the Religious Shrines, 1974.
Monitoring Desk adds: India said the cancellation of visa of 500 Pakistani pilgrims was done as a measure of abundant precaution to ensure their safety and welfare, within hours after its Deputy High Commissioner was summoned in Islamabad in this regard, PTI reported.
An Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said India is in the midst of general elections and a visit of such a large group of pilgrims would have required much more elaborate arrangements than what are usually done for such events.
“Regrettably, it was not possible for Pakistani Zaireen to attend the annual Urs of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at (May 1-12) this year.
“It is true that this was a last-moment decision, all government agencies, including our railway authorities, had made full arrangement to transport over 500 Zaireen from Pakistan from Attari railway station to Ajmer and back,” he said.