The External Affairs Ministry has said that Pakistan prevented Sikh pilgrims from meeting the Indian High Commissioner and staff in Pakistan. India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over the issue. Weeks earlier, New Delhi and Islamabad decided to resolve the crisis arising out of “harassment and intimidation” of diplomats and their families.
The MEA said: “A Jatha of around 1800 Sikh yatris has been travelling in Pakistan from April 12, under a bilateral agreement on facilitating visits to religious shrines. A standard practice has been that the Indian High Commission’s consular/protocol team is attached with visiting pilgrims, to perform consular and protocol duties, like helping out in medical or family emergencies. However, this year, the consular team has been denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims. The team could not meet the pilgrims on their arrival at Wagah Railway Station on April 12. Similarly, it was denied entry into Gurdwara Panja Sahib on April 14, for a scheduled meeting with pilgrims there. The High Commission was thus prevented from performing basic consular and protocol duties for Indian citizens.”