Pakistan blocks 1,800 Sikh pilgrims' access to Indian diplomats
India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan on Sunday over the blocking of access of 1,800 visiting Sikh pilgrims to Indian diplomats in that country and even "compelling" the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan to return while on way to Gurdwara Panja Sahib there, for unspecified "security" reasons. The Indian envoy was to greet Indian pilgrims on the occasion of Baisakhi. Here's more.
Sikh pilgrims are on a visit to Pakistan from April 12 under a bilateral agreement on facilitating visits to religious shrines. "These incidents constitute a clear violation of Vienna Convention of 1961, the bilateral Protocol to visit Religious Shrines, 1974 and the Code of Conduct (for the treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India, Pakistan) of 1992, recently reaffirmed by both countries," the MEA said.
The fresh incidents came over two weeks after India and Pakistan agreed to resolve matters related to the treatment of diplomats after envoys of the two countries made claims and counter-claims about harassment of each other's diplomats.
On not allowing the pilgrims to meet Indian diplomats, the MEA said 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 MEA added.