Pakistan not sending pilgrims to Ajmer following Indian advice

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In a latest sign of rising tensions between the South Asian nuclear neighbours, Pakistan decided on Friday not to send its pilgrims for participation in the annual Urs of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti, to be held soon in Ajmer Sharif, following India’s refusal to provide them with adequate security and ensure their safety.
Tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi are on the rise in the wake of attacks on each others’ prisoners in jails of both countries in the past few weeks.
First it was Indian spy Sarabjit Singh, on a death row in Pakistan, who was attacked by some prisoners in a jail in Lahore on April 26. Singh died later succumbing to his injuries.
The day following Singh’s death saw Pakistani citizen Sanaullah being attacked in a jail in Indian held Kashmir. He died later in a hospital in Chandigarh.
On Friday, India told Pakistan not to send its pilgrims to Ajmer for the annual Urs that begins on May 13 and ends on May 23. Indian authorities said they would not be able to provide them with safety and protection.
Following the Indian advice, Pakistan decided not to send its pilgrims, Foreign Office Spokesman Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry told Pakistan Today.
“After India told us it was unable to provide security to our Zaireen, we were left with no other choice but to cancel their visit to Ajmer Sharif,” he said.
“It is our view that the people-to-people exchanges should continue as they contribute in enhancing understanding between the two countries. It was our expectation that the pilgrims would go and pay their respect at the Urs in Ajmer Sharif,” Aizaz said.
A diplomatic source said the killing of prisoners from the two states in each others’ jails had impacted bilateral ties and also vitiated the atmosphere on both sides of the border.
However, he said Pakistan was willing to improve bilateral relations and work for a better environment on both sides of the border provided that India responded in the same manner.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office earlier said, “The Indian Deputy High Commissioner, in a meeting with the Director General South Asia, conveyed that due to the prevailing security environment in India, following recent bilateral incidents, the Government of India would not be in a position to ensure the safety and security of the group of Zaireen from Pakistan scheduled to visit Ajmer Sharif for participation in the annual Urs of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti from May 13 to 23, 2013. The Government of India has recommended to the Government of Pakistan that the visit of the Zaireen (pilgrims) to Ajmer Sharif this year may, therefore be called off,” it said.
“Necessary advice in this regard has been conveyed to the Ministry of Religious Affairs,” the statement said.

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