ISLAMABAD (APP) – Pakistani High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood has stressed upon the Indian government to fully implement the bilateral 1974 Protocol between India and Pakistan on Visits to Religious Shrines.
The Pakistan Government made assiduous efforts to preserve religious sites and facilitate visits of people of all faiths, he told the Tribune India daily.
Referring to recent visit of the Sikh Yatrees to Pakistan, he said it was consistent with the governments commitment and in accordance with provisions of the 1974 Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines.
Over 20,000 Sikh pilgrims from across the globe attended the Baisakhi festival with the main celebrations held in Gurdawara Panja Sahib in Hassanabdal.
The high commissioner emphasizing upon the faithful implementation of the bilateral protocol, said the people from different faiths usually wait and prepare for their religious journeys throughout the year.
In the meanwhile, on Sunday, the Foreign Office in a press statement rejected Indian Ministry of External Affairs allegations by saying that it deeply regretted Indian attempt to generate controversy around the visits of Sikh pilgrims and to vitiate the environment of bilateral relations.
For decades, Pakistan has made excellent arrangements to facilitate the visits of Sikh Yatrees from across the world, including India, and extended protocol, reception, security, medical and other facilities which was consistent with its religious ethos and traditions of hospitality.
“It is ironic for the Government of India to accuse Pakistan of violating the 1974 Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, whereas it is the Indian Government that has, in clear violation of the Protocol, twice within this year denied visas to Pakistani pilgrims on occasions of Urs of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya (R.A.) and Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Ajmeri (R.A.) and scuttled at least three visits of Sikh and Hindu pilgrims to Religious Shrines in Pakistan since June 2017,” it added.
It said for its part, Pakistan would continue to adhere to the 1974 Protocol, as was evident from issuance of visas to over 2,000 visas Sikh Yatrees from India.
“We hope that the Indian side would abide by the provisions of the Protocol in letter and spirit,” the spokesman reminded Indian government.