ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday categorically rejected Indian allegations of “attempts to incite Indian pilgrims” on the issue of ‘Khalistan.’
“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,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office.
It said Pakistan welcomes Hindu and Sikh pilgrims from all over the world, including India.
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“As always, Pakistani authorities have made arrangements to extend maximum facilitation to the visiting Sikh Yatrees. The members of the Sikh community appreciate the assistance and cooperation extended to them during their visits to sacred places in Pakistan.”
The statement went on to say that the Sikh community had been protesting against the Government of India for screening a controversial movie in India, which hurt their religious sentiments.
These protests 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.
“Indian attempts to distort the truth and obfuscate facts are unethical and regrettable.”
“It is 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. No amount of Indian propaganda could succeed in turning this right into a wrong.”
The Government of India should 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.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif met Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM-2018) in London on Tuesday.
The two leaders reviewed progress in bilateral relations and reiterated commitment to further strengthening these ties by enhancing trade, promoting investment and creating greater opportunities for educational and cultural cooperation.
The foreign secretary said the UK greatly valued its partnership with Pakistan and was keen to further augment it.
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The two sides also discussed regional and global issues. The foreign secretary particularly appreciated Pakistan’s counter-terrorism achievements and efforts to bring peace and security in the region.
Foreign Minister Asif briefed Secretary Johnson on the current state of Pakistan-India relations, situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and ceasefire violations along the LoC and the Working Boundary by the Indian side.
The foreign minister invited the UK secretary to visit Pakistan for the next round of the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue (ESD) between the two countries, which the latter accepted.