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New Delhi Correspondent
India lodged a strong protest with Pakistan on Friday for the latter’s not allowing the Indian High Commission officials to meet Indian Sikh pilgrims in that country and expressed grave concern over reports of attempts being made during the ongoing visit of the pilgrims to incite communal disharmony and promote secessionist tendencies for undermining India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Indian External Affairs Ministry said in a statement that the consular officials of the Indian mission in Islamabad, despite having travel permission from Pakistan Foreign Ministry, were “harassed and denied access” on November 21 and 22 November at Gurudwara Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Sikh religion founder Guru Nanak, and Gurudwara Sacha Sauda to Indian pilgrims visiting Pakistan under the bilateral protocol.
“As a result of such harassment they were compelled to return to Islamabad without performing their diplomatic and consular duties vis-a-vis Indian pilgrims,”the statement said.
The MEA said this was the third consecutive visit of the Indian Sikh pilgrims when Pakistan has prevented the Indian High Commission officials from meeting the pilgrims “on the pretext of security in order to deflect attention from Pakistan’s violation of the international legal instruments and conventions like the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963.”
“This is also in breach of the letter and spirit of the 1974 Bilateral Protocol on visit to religious shrines and the Code of Conduct for the treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan, 1992,” the statement said adding “Pakistan has been reminded that this is in contrast to the treatment met out to their High Commissioner and the Consular officials in New Delhi who have been provided full access to meet the Pakistani pilgrims who are currently in India on pilgrimage to Kalyar Sharif .”
New Delhi also also “expressed grave concern over reports of attempts being made during the ongoing visit of the Indian pilgrims to Pakistan, to incite communal disharmony and intolerance and promote secessionist tendencies with the objective of undermining India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“Pakistan has been called upon to take all measures to not allow its territory to be used for any hostile propaganda and support for secessionist tendencies against India in keeping with the commitments made under the Simla Agreement, 1972 and endorsed in the Lahore Declaration, 1999,” the MEA said.
Pakistan has also been conveyed that such actions are not in consonance with the stated intentions of Pakistan to facilitate the visits of Indian Sikh pilgrims, especially during the commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
In a separate statement, India strongly condemned the terrorist attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi this morning and said “there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism and the perpetrators of this heinous attack should be brought to justice expeditiously.