FO concerned at India’s move to obstruct pilgrims’ visit to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib

Updated November 22, 2019

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"There are some reports of Indian reluctance and creation of problems for the Yatrees," Dr Mohammad Faisal says.
"There are some reports of Indian reluctance and creation of problems for the Yatrees," Dr Mohammad Faisal says.

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday expressed concern over reports that India was obstructing the use of newly-established Kartarpur Corridor by Sikh pilgrims for visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.

Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal at the weekly media briefing said that Pakistan government had “agreed to receive five thousand pilgrims per day from the corridor. However, there are some reports of Indian reluctance and creation of problems for the Yatrees”.

The corridor providing Indian Sikhs the visa-free access to one of their holiest shrines was opened on Nov 9 ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Baba Guru Nanak.

The spokesman had at last week’s briefing shared the figures of pilgrims, who came through the corridor on the day it was inaugurated. Accor­ding to him, only 700 of the 12,000 pilgrims, who visited the shrine that day, came through the corridor.

Opening of Kartarpur Corridor was a longstanding demand of Sikhs. The Pakistan government agreed last year to its opening with the hope that it would help lessen tensions between the two neighbours.

Dr Faisal said that the Pakistan government remained committed to implementing the Kartarpur Agreement in letter and spirit.

Responding to another question, the spokesman said that Pakistan never expected “anything good from India”. He said India was sliding fast into religious intolerance and extremism under RSS-led Hindutva ideology of the BJP government.

Commenting on a former Indian army General S.P. Sinha’s remarks advocating rape and killings in Kashmir, Dr Faisal said that it was “a very serious issue” and asked Indian civil society, media and politicians to introspect on India’s treatment of minorities and the people of India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

He said that India could no more hide repression in occupied Kashmir from the international community.

Asked about a “death certificate” that was doing the rounds on social media and was claimed to be of retired Col Habib Zahir, who went missing in Nepal in April 2017, Dr Faisal said it looked to be fake.

“It is obviously a campaign of sensationalisation being undertaken by hostile agencies against Pakistan and its nationals.”

Col Zahir is believed to have been kidnapped by Indian security agencies from Lumbini, nearly five kilometres from India-Nepal border.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2019