Islamabad slams India for blocking Sikh pilgrims’ entry into Pakistan

Islamabad slams India for blocking Sikh pilgrims’ entry into Pakistan

SAM Staff,
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Nafees Zakaria

Pakistan has slammed the Indian government for restricting hundreds of Sikh pilgrims from attending the Jorr Mela festival in Pakistan.

“India has no respect for human values,” the statement from the foreign office said, referring to India’s refusal to allow pilgrims to visit Pakistan.

Despite issuance of visa by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, a majority of Sikh pilgrims couldn’t enter the country after Indian authorities stopped them at Attari Railway Station on “technical grounds”.

Under a protocol signed by Pakistan and India, 300 Sikh pilgrims were scheduled to visit Pakistan to attend the 411th death anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth of the 11 Sikh gurus.

The pilgrims wanted to participate in the 10-day Jorr Mela held to mark the martyrdom of Arjan Dev Ji, starting from June 9 in Hassanabdal and other parts of Punjab.

But after India stopped the pilgrims from visiting Pakistan, only 16 Yatris arrived at the Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassanabdal to offer religious rituals.

Addressing the issue on Monday, the spokesperson for the Foreign Office Nafees Zakaria said: “Minorities are continuously mistreated in India.”

“India also has a ban on visas for Pakistanis seeking medical treatment in India,” he noted.

“Pakistan made all arrangements keeping in mind the religious sentiments of Sikhs,” Zakaria asserted. “We had prepared everything in order to facilitate Sikh pilgrims according to their needs.”

Taking a broader approach, the spokesman went on to mention India’s other alleged atrocities.

“India is guilty of using Kashmiris in India-held Kashmir as human shields. They [Indian forces] also target innocent citizens near the Line of Control and Working Boundary,” said Zakaria.

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