- FO says Indian attempts to distort truth and obfuscate facts unethical and regrettable
ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) has categorically rejected Indian allegations that Pakistan is attempting to ‘incite’ Sikh pilgrims on the issue of Khalistan while they are attending Baisakhi in Pakistan.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said that “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”.
The spokesperson pointed out the Sikh community has been protesting against the Indian government 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, he added.
“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,” the spokesperson said and added that “Indian attempts to distort the truth and obfuscate facts are unethical and regrettable.”
“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,” the spokesperson maintained. “No amount of Indian propaganda could succeed in turning this right into a wrong.”
Dr Faisal further urged the government of India to 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.
He also said that Pakistan welcomes and facilitates Hindu and Sikh pilgrims from all over the world, including India. “As always, Pakistani authorities have made arrangements to extend maximum facilitation to the visiting Sikh Yatrees,” he said.
He further said that the “members of the Sikh community appreciate the assistance and cooperation extended to them during their visits to sacred places in Pakistan.”