New Delhi, April 15: A week after India and Pakistan’s pact to come up with a solution to the crisis resulting due to ‘harassment and intimidation” of diplomats and their families, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a statement saying that it has registered a strong protest after Islamabad prevented Sikh pilgrims from meeting the Indian High Commissioner and staff in Pakistan.
“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,” the MEA said in a statement.
The MEA added that on April 14, the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan was forced to return while he was on his way to the Gurdwara Panja Sahib. The High Commissioner was invited by the Chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board and was to greet Indian citizens celebrating Baisakhi. Thus, the commissioner was prevented from carrying out his protocol duties.
India called this behaviour by Pakistan “inexplicable diplomatic discourtesy” and a clear violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961. The Vienna Convention defines the bilateral Protocol to visit Religious Shrines, 1974 and the Code of Conduct (for the treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan) of 1992; it was recently signed by both the countries (India and Pakistan).