Gurdaspur fallout: Pakistan envoy cancels visit to Chandigarh
Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit on Tuesday cancelled his scheduled visit to Chandigarh after the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana called off their meetings with him in the wake of the terror attack in Gurdaspur blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
Basit was scheduled to visit Chandigarh during July 29-August 1.
A spokesperson for Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal said late on Monday night that he had called off his scheduled meeting with Basit on July 29 but did not cite any reasons.
A similar move was announced by the Haryana chief minister. Chandigarh is the capital of both states.
The decision came in the wake of an 11-hour siege in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district that ended when security forces gunned down three militants suspected to be from Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Dinanagar town.
The suspected Pakistani terrorists stormed a police station in Dinanagar, killing seven people and wounding 10 others.
The area’s superintendent of police Baljit Singh, three security personnel and three civilians were among the dead.
The attack has cast a shadow on the normalisation of ties between India and Pakistan. The terror strike came weeks after prime ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif met in Russia and agreed that top security officers from the two countries will meet to discuss ways to counter terrorism.
Sources in the Pakistan high commission said it was “unfortunate” that Basit had to cancel his visit to Chandigarh.
The sources further said the external affairs ministry had conveyed its approval for Basit’s visit at 3 pm on Tuesday but “without approval for his accompanying officers”.
Sources in the Indian government said all decisions on clearing such visits by diplomats are taken on the basis of reciprocity, which is the basic issue in deciding these matters. The sources noted there had been occasions when clearances for visits by Indian diplomats posted in Pakistan had been either denied or delayed.
Besides calling on the chief ministers, Basit was to give a talk at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, address students at Punjab University, interact with a local chamber of commerce and visit schools.
“The purpose of the visit was to build bridges and enhance mutual understanding,” a source said.