India today strongly protested harassment and “attempts at hostile propaganda” during the visit of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan, stating that they were not allowed to meet Indian High Commission officials.
India has registered a formal complaint after diplomats were reportedly humiliated and barred from entering Gurdwara Nankana Sahib on Wednesday night and Gurdwara Sachcha Sauda the next day. Both are in Punjab province of Pakistan.
New Delhi said despite travel permission from Pakistan’s foreign ministry, Indian consular officials in Islamabad were harassed and denied access to the pilgrims. “As a result of such harassment they were compelled to return to Islamabad without performing their diplomatic and consular duties vis-a-vis Indian pilgrims,” the government said in a statement.
“Pakistan has been reminded that such actions are not in consonance with the stated intentions of Pakistan to facilitate the visits of Indian Sikh pilgrims, especially as we commemorate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.”
It also expressed concern at reports of what it called “attempts to incite communal disharmony and intolerance and promote secessionist tendencies with the objective of undermining India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Pakistan must take all measures against its territory being used for any hostile propaganda and support for secessionist tendencies against India in keeping with the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration, said the statement.
The government expressed grave concern that this is the third consecutive visit in which Indian officials have not been allowed to meet Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan “on the pretext of security”. Pakistan has violated the international legal instruments and conventions like the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, said the statement.
“This is also in breach of the letter and spirit of the 1974 Bilateral Protocol on visit to religious shrines and the Code of Conduct for the treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan, 1992,”said the government.
New Delhi reminded Pakistan that this was in contrast to the treatment of the Pakistani High Commissioner and the Consular officials who were provided full access to meet the Pakistani pilgrims currently in India on a pilgrimage to Kalyar Sharif.