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Pak rejects allegations of blocking Indian envoy's access to Sikh pilgrims

Press Trust of India  |  Islamabad 

has rejected as "baseless" the allegations that it blocked access of visiting Indian pilgrims to Indian diplomats and even "compelled" the Indian to return while on way to Sahib in province.

also said that it was "deeply regrettable that facts in this matter had been completely distorted and misrepresented."

has lodged a strong protest with over blocking of access of visiting pilgrims to Indian diplomats.

The in a statement in yesterday said that 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 Sahib on Saturday.

The MEA called it an "inexplicable diplomatic discourtesy" by Pakistan, holding that these incidents constitute a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

Commenting on the MEA statement, the yesterday termed the "allegations as baseless."

Faisal said the of the (ETPB) had extended an invitation to the of to attend the main function of at the Sahib on April 14 and the foreign ministry granted the to him.

"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 of some film on Baba Guru Nanak Devji.

"Considering an emotionally charged environment and the possibility of any untoward situation, the ETPB authorities contacted the officials and suggested cancellation of the visit," Faisal claimed.

He said the officials, after due deliberation, conveyed back to ETPB their agreement to call off the visit in view of such a situation. "The cancellation took place with mutual understanding," he claimed.

Faisal claimed that the facts regarding visits of Consular/Protocol teams on April 12 and 14 have also been twisted.

"The matter relating to the Protocol team's access on the arrival of the Jatha at Wagha was expeditiously resolved through the intervention of the However, the concerned officials of the chose not to return, even though they were duly notified that the requisite clearance has been granted," he said.

Faisal said that there was no scheduled meeting with pilgrims on Saturday.

On Sunday, the officials of Indian High Commission visited Gurdwara Punja Sahib, he claimed.

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

"It is ironic for the to accuse of violating the on Visits to Religious Shrines, whereas it is the that has, in clear violation of the Protocol, twice within this year denied visas to Pakistani pilgrims on occasions of of Hazrat and and scuttled at least three visits of Sikh and Hindu pilgrims to Religious Shrines in Pakistan since June 2017," Faisal claimed.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 16 2018. 21:05 IST