Pakistan accused India of violating a bilateral protocol by not issuing visas to its more than 500 pilgrims who wanted to attend the annual festivities at the Sufi shrine in Ajmer.
“Pakistan notes with deep disappointment the non-issuance of visas by India for the visit of the 503 Pakistani Zaireen (pilgrim) to participate in the Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (RA) at Ajmer Sharif, India, from 19-29 March 2018.
“As a result of this Indian decision, the Pakistani Zaireen have been deprived of the opportunity to participate in the Urs, which is of special significance,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
The statement also said that 192 Pakistani pilgrims could not participate in the Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi from January 1-8, 2018, due to the non-issuance of visas by India.
It alleged that despite Pakistan’s offer to send a special train, Sikh pilgrims from India could not participate in the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev and the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh last year because of delays by India.
Similarly, in February this year, Pakistan government had made the arrangements for the visit of 173 pilgrims to visit the Katas Raj temples, who were “forced” to withdraw their applications from the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi due to non-issuance of necessary clearance by the Ministry of External Affairs, said the statement.
“Besides being violative of the bilateral Protocol of 1974 and the 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,” said the Foreign Office.
Pakistan’s allegation has come amidst the backdrop of the recent acrimony between the two countries who have accused each other of not allowing normal consular services to their diplomats.