Pak Bars Indian Envoy from Visiting Gurudwara on Birthday Despite Prior Permission

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The Indian envoy and wife had gone to pray at Gurudwara Panja Sahib near Islamabad after permission, but were not allowed to leave their vehicle.

New Delhi, June 23 India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria was stopped on Friday from visiting the Gurdwara Panja Sahib near Islamabad despite having the requisite permission from Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the second incident this year.

Friday happened to be Bisaria’s birthday and he, along with his wife, had gone to pray at the gurdwara after acquiring proper documents, but they were reportedly not allowed to leave their vehicle.

Bisaria had been stopped from visiting Gurdwara Panja Sahib in April as well when he had been invited by the chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB). Pakistani authorities had then cited “security concerns”. The Indian consular team was also denied entry into the gurdwara in April for a scheduled meeting with a group of Sikh pilgrims there, following which New Delhi had lodged a strong protest with Islamabad.

Envoys of both India and Pakistan have made claims and counter-claims about harassment of each other’s diplomats. India had asked Pakistan to ensure safety and security of its officials working at the Indian mission in Islamabad, saying they continue to face harassment and “intimidation”.

In its 16th note verbale, a diplomatic communication, to the Pakistan foreign ministry on March 22, the Indian High Commission specifically mentioned three incidents of harassment of senior officials.

Pakistan had claimed that there had been as many as 26 instances of harassment and intimidation of its diplomats since March 7, following which Islamabad called back its high commissioner Sohail Mahmood to discuss the issue.

On April 5, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said both countries had agreed to resolve matters related to treatment of diplomats in line with the 1992 Code of Conduct for treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel in India and Pakistan.

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