Pakistan on Monday claimed India had violated a bilateral protocol by denying visas to people who wanted to travel to Ajmer in Rajasthan for a pilgrimage.
In a statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said it was deeply disappointed that India had not issued visas to 503 Pakistani Zaireen, or pilgrims, who wanted to attend the Urs festival in Ajmer from March 19 to March 29, The Express Tribune reported. The event commemorates the death anniversary of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.
The pilgrims were supposed to be allowed the trip under the 1974 Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines and is an annual feature, the Foreign Office said. “Besides being violative of the bilateral protocol of 1974 and the basic human right to religious freedom, such measures also undermine the efforts aimed at improving the environment, increasing people-to-people contacts and normalising relations between the two countries,” the statement added.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office also said that 192 pilgrims from the country were denied visas earlier this year and could not participate in the event commemorating the death anniversary of Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia in New Delhi from January 1 to January 8.
The statement also said that in 2017, despite Pakistan’s offers to send a special train, Sikh pilgrims were unable to participate in events commemorating the death anniversaries of Guru Arjan Dev and Maharaja Ranjit Singh because of delays by India.
Similarly, in February, 173 Indian pilgrims to Katas Raj in Pakistan had to withdraw their visa applications because India’s Ministry of External Affairs had not issued the necessary clearances, the Foreign Office claimed.