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    Monday, 19 March 2018

    Amid diplomatic standoff: India fails to issue visas to 503 pilgrims for Urs at Ajmer Sharif

    Pakistani pilgrims were unable to participate in the Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (RA) due to non-issuance of visas by India, a press release from the foreign office confirmed on Monday.


    “Pakistan notes with deep disappointment the non-issuance of visas by India for the visit of 503 Pakistani pilgrims to participate in the Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (RA) at Ajmer Sharif, India from 19-29 March 2018. The visit was to take place under the 1974 Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines and is a regular annual feature,” the statement read.
    The Urs is of special significance to the Pakistani pilgrims, and they have been deprived of the opportunity due to India’s inability to issue visas.
    Earlier, 192 Pakistani pilgrims could not participate in the Urs of Hazrat Khawaja NizamuddinAulia (RA) in Delhi from January 1-8 2018, due to the non-issuance of visas by India, the foreign office press release added.
    During 2017, despite offers to send a special train, Indian delays had resulted in Sikh yatrees (pilgrims) from India being unable to participate in the martyrdom aniversary of Guru Arjan Dev and the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
    In a similar vein, last month, the government made all arrangements for the visit of 173 Katas Raj pilgrims who were also unable to visit India and withdrew their applications due to non-issuance of clearance by India
    “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 normalizing relations between the two countries,” the foreign office added.
    They also noted how it was ironic this was done on the occasion of Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (RA) who has for centuries been the symbol of bringing communities closer to each other.
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