India summons Pak diplomat; protests raising of Khalistan issue during visit of Sikh pilgrims
New Delhi, Apr 16: India today summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner here and lodged a strong protest over attempts being made to raise the Khalistan issue during the visit of Sikh pilgrims to that country.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said Pakistan was called upon to immediately stop all such activities that were aimed at undermining India’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and incitement of disharmony in India.
“A strong protest was lodged at attempts being made during the ongoing visit of the Sikh pilgrims from India to Pakistan to raise the issue of ‘Khalistan’ by making inflammatory statements and displaying posters at various places of pilgrims visit in Pakistan,” the ministry said.
It was conveyed that such repeated attempts by authorities and entities in Pakistan to extend support to secessionist movements in India amount to interference in its internal affairs, the MEA said.
It also said such incidents during the visit of Indian pilgrims went against the spirit of the bilateral protocol of 1974 governing the exchange of visits of pilgrims between the two countries.
The summoning of Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner came a day after India lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over blocking of access of visiting Sikh pilgrims to Indian diplomats in that country and even “compelling” the Indian envoy to return while on way to a prominent gurudwara there.
The MEA had yesterday said a group of around 1,800 Sikh pilgrims are on a visit to Pakistan from April 12 under a bilateral agreement on facilitating visits to religious shrines.
It had said the Indian High Commissioner, who was to greet Indian pilgrims on the occasion of Baisakhi, was compelled to return when he was en route to Gurdwara Panja Sahib.