India summons Pakistani diplomat, lodges strong protest

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The government on Saturday summoned the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan and lodged a strong protest after Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria and other consular officials were stopped from visiting a gurdwara to meet Indian pilgrims despite having necessary permission.

“The Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan was summoned today (Saturday) and a strong protest was lodged at the denial of access to the Indian High Commissioner and consular officials of the Indian High Commission to visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib and meet the Indian pilgrims despite a travel permission having been granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“A strong protest was also registered by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad at the incident,” it stated.

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“This is the second consecutive time, Pakistan has denied access to Indian High Commissioner to meet the visiting pilgrims who are Indian nationals.”

In April too, India had lodged a strong protest after Bisaria and other consular officials were stopped from visiting the same gurdwara to meet Indian pilgrims.

India and Pakistan have a bilateral agreement that facilitates visits to religious shrines.

A standard practice has been that the Indian High Commission’s consular team is attached with visiting pilgrims, to perform consular and protocol duties, like helping out in medical or family emergencies.

According to Saturday’s ministry statement, the Indian organisers, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), when contacted, have expressed grave concern and dismay at the incident despite the visiting pilgrims from India having asked Pakistan organisers to facilitate a meeting with the Indian High Commissioner and High Commission officials.

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“It has been conveyed to Pakistan side that preventing the Indian High Commission officials from discharging their consular responsibilities is in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, and the 1974 bilateral protocol on visits to religious shrines,” it stated.

“Concerns have also been conveyed at repeated attempts by entities in Pakistan to extend support to secessionist movements in India and incite the Indian pilgrims, and Pakistan authorities asked to ensure that no such activity is carried out from Pakistan soil.”

–IANS

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