Pakistan inciting Sikh pilgrims, says India

The 'Muslim-first' Doctrine

India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over blocking of access of visiting Sikh pilgrims to Indian diplomats. Also, the reports are claiming that commission from performing basic consular and protocol duties for Indian citizens.

"We are thankful to the people for the great hospitality and we will go back with the message of peace and love from Pakistan", Param, a pilgrim from India, told Arab News.

India on Monday accused Pakistan of trying to incite Indian Sikh pilgrims there by raising the issue of "Khalistan" through inflammatory statements and posters.

A group of around 1800 Sikh pilgrims travelled to Pakistan on April 12 on the occasion of Baisakhi to visit Sikh Shrines in Pakistan.

It may be recalled that Pakistani security agencies including the notorious ISI have always been under the scanner for their role in trying to get pro-Khalistan elements in Europe and North America to instigate Indian Sikh pilgrims who visit Pakistan.

In a statement, the MEA also said the Indian High Commissioner, who was to greet Indian pilgrims on the occasion of Baisakhi, was compelled to return when he was en route to Gurdwara Panja Sahib on Saturday.

The report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), issued on April 16, said that people continue to disappear in the country, including journalists and bloggers who criticize the military or those who advocate better relations with neighboring India. The statement said travel permission was promptly granted.

"Pakistan is home to holy places of nearly all religions, including Sikhism and Buddhism", he said.

Dr Faisal pointed out the Sikh community has been protesting against the government of India for screening a controversial movie in India, which hurt their religious sentiments.

Commenting on the MEA statement, the Foreign Office spokesman yesterday termed the "allegations as baseless". "In response, the factual position was duly communicated to the Indian side, both in Islamabad and New Delhi". According to External Affairs Ministry.

Islamabad also accused New Delhi of twisting the facts and presenting "a wrongful version" of the events from Saturday "to mislead the public opinion". However, the concerned officials of the Indian High Commission chose not to return, although they were duly notified that the requisite clearance has been granted. Pakistan welcomes and facilitates Hindu and Sikh pilgrims from all over the world, including India, he added.

"We deeply regret this Indian attempt to generate controversy around the visits of Sikh pilgrims and to vitiate the environment of bilateral relations", it said.

The statement notes that the actions that occurred during the visit by the Indian pilgrims are contrary to the 1974 bilateral Protocol, which serves as a guideline for the exchange of these kinds of visits between the two countries.

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