India, Pakistan spar again over access to Sikh pilgrims
India lodged a protest with Pakistan on Sunday for not allowing its high commissioner and diplomats meet Sikh pilgrims visiting the neighbouring country.india Updated: Apr 16, 2018 22:56 IST
India on Monday lodged a fresh protest with Pakistan over its diplomats not being allowed to meet Sikh pilgrims at Nankana Sahib gurudwara, two persons familiar with the development said.
In its protest to the Pakistan foreign ministry, India reiterated that the code of conduct (for the treatment of diplomatic and consular personnel in India and Pakistan) of 1992, recently reaffirmed by both countries, was not being followed.
“Not letting the consular officials meet the pilgrims is against the agreed understanding between the two countries. Our team of officials was given not permission to meet the pilgrims and they were given no explanation”, said an official in Delhi.
Nankana Sahib is a holy city of the Sikhs and is the capital of the Nankana Sahib district in Pakistan’s Punjab province. The city named after the first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak, who was born in the city and began preaching here.
This is the second diplomatic protest on the matter in as many days. There was no immediate reaction from the Pakistan High Commission on the development.
India lodged a protest with Pakistan on Sunday for not allowing its high commissioner and diplomats meet Sikh pilgrims visiting the neighbouring country, the external affairs ministry had said, even as the two nations recently agreed to mend frosty relations.
Islamabad countered the charge, accusing New Delhi of trying to “vitiate environment of bilateral relations”, even as the two nations sparred over the alleged snub to the Indian high commissioner in Islamabad, Ajay Bisaria.
New Delhi on Sunday had called the Pakistani action a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.
Barely two weeks ago, India and Pakistan had agreed to resolve a discord over alleged harassment of each other’s diplomats and their families.
Around 1,800 Indian Sikhs are in Pakistan since April 12 — their visit facilitated by a 1974 bilateral agreement that allows citizens of the two nations to make pilgrimages in each other’s territories.
Giving permission to pilgrims to meet Indian diplomats is a standard practice that helps consular teams to reach out to its visiting citizens in case of medical or family emergencies.