Indian delegates sent back from Wagha


LAHORE: The Indian delegates of the Asian Caravan for Palestine due to arrive at Lahore were sent back from the Wagah border on Saturday. The delegation waited three hours at Wahga border, only to be informed that the Indian members of the delegation were denied permission to cross over into Pakistan on the last moment.
This was despite the fact that the 34 Indian delegates had been issued visas by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. Members of the delegation told Pakistan Today that two weeks ago Feroze Mithiborwala of the Asian Peoples Solidarity for Palestine had been assured by the Pakistani High Commission had assured that the Indian members of the caravan would be granted visas.
Based on the assurance, members of the Caravan started applying for visas to the four other countries to the west of Pakistan to continue their journey. Members of the delegation said that the Pakistani High Commission rejected the visa applications of the Indian participants on Wednesday, 1st Dec citing security reasons only to finally give them permission to come to Lahore after hectic lobbying.
An Indian member of the delegation said, “The change threw all the plans for traveling from Lahore to Karachi into confusion and meant members of the Caravan would have to fly to Iran from Lahore. This meant we had to reschedule our flights which increased our cost by Rs 650,000.With the Pakistani government having done its share the Indian government did its bit too.
The Indian government did not issue a clearance from the Interior/Home Ministry that the governments insist was required to to cross over into the other country. The last minute cancellation meant a delegation of Pakistanis awaiting protested at the border crossing and raised slogans in favour of Palestinian independence and against the aggressive Zionist policies of apartheid and occupation.
A press conference was held at the Press Club in which the day’s events were conveyed and a demand was made for an overhaul of the visa regime between India and Pakistan.