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    Friday, 25 May 2018

    Pakistan awaits India’s response over pilgrims visas

    India is reluctant to issue visas to Pakistani pilgrims to participate in the annual Urs of Hazrat Amir Khusuro.Earlier, It did not let Devotees of Hazrat Mueenuddin Chishri Ajmeri to take part in the annual urs. However ,Pakistan still hopes that the Indian government would allow its nationals to travel across the border to participate in the annual Urs of Hazrat Amir Khusuro going to be held from June 28 to July 5, in Delhi, India.
    Authorities in Pakistan are waiting for an official response from the Indian High Commission before they submit passports of intending pilgrims.
    India has denied visas to Pakistanis intending to travel to the neighbouring country for the religious tourism. However, Islamabad is hopeful that New Delhi would revisit its stance after Pakistan recently granted visas to hundreds of Sikh pilgrims to attend the Baisakhi festival.
    An official privy to the process told The Express Tribune that The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony has completed the process of selecting pilgrims through balloting and are now waiting to hear from the Indian High Commission.
    India has not issued visas to Pakistani pilgrims since the beginning of this year, he said adding that though India is bound by a bilateral protocol to issue visas to Pakistani pilgrims to visit religious shrines.
    “It happened soon after when the wife and mother of an Indian spy  Kulbhushan Jadhav, who came to Pakistan to meet him last year, left for India and accused Pakistan of harassing them,” he said.
    The official said that Pakistan did not let the ongoing tension between India and Pakistan to ruin the commitment between both the country regarding promoting religious tourism and people-to-people contact.
    He drew a comparison between the two countries and said that India refused to issue visas to the scores of Pakistani pilgrims intending to travel to Ajmer in India in connection with the Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti. “But Pakistan did not stop Sikh pilgrims to come to Pakistan to participate in the celebrations of Baisakhi Mela and Khalsa Janam Din,” he added.
    During the Sikh pilgrimages, one pilgrim went missing and another got married here in Pakistan. “Though despite these two incidents, Pakistan did not call them terrorists or bar them from coming here to participate in their religious festivals, unlike India,” said the official.

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