Islamabad: Pakistan has rejected India’s claims of ‘inciting’ Sikh pilgrims who visited the country to partake in the traditional festival of Baisakhi.
On Monday, the Indian ministry of external affairs ministry accused Pakistan of displaying specific posters at the sites of the pilgrims’ visit. On Sunday, Indian said its high commissioner was prevented from meeting the pilgrims, an allegation Pakistan strongly denied.
“Pakistan categorically rejects Indian allegations of “attempts to incite Indian pilgrims” on the issue of ‘Khalistan’, said the Foreign Office spokesperson in a statement on Tuesday.
“By spreading such falsehoods, India has chosen to deliberately stoke further controversy around the visit of Sikh pilgrims, currently attending the Baisakhi and Khalsa Janamdin ceremonies in Pakistan,” it added.
“Pakistan welcomes Hindu and Sikh pilgrims from all over the world, including India,” he said. “As always, Pakistani authorities have made arrangements to extend maximum facilitation to the visiting Sikh Yatrees.”
He further said that the members of the Sikh community appreciate the assistance and cooperation extended to them during their visits to sacred places in Pakistan.”
The spokesperson explained that “the Sikh community has been protesting against the government of India for screening a controversial movie in India, which hurt their religious sentiments.”
These protests, he added, had started in India and other parts of the world before the Sikh Yatrees arrived in Pakistan. “In view of the charged situation and the explicit refusal of the Sikh Yatrees to meet Indian officials, the Indian high commissioner cancelled his visit on April 14, 2018,” the spokesperson said and added that “Indian attempts to distort the truth and obfuscate facts are unethical and regrettable.”
He termed it ironic that the country whose highest officials are on record for statements against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan choose to indulge in blatant hypocrisy by twisting facts.“We remain committed to continuing such cooperation, which is in line with our religious ethos, traditions of hospitality, and provisions of the 1974 Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines,” the spokesperson maintained. “No amount of Indian propaganda could succeed in turning this right into a wrong.”He urged the government of India to respect international and inter-state norms, respect all religions, especially minorities, and refrain from indulging in pointless provocation which only vitiates an already charged environment to the detriment of all.