Pakistan rejects Indian allegations to incite Sikhs on Khalistan issue

Pakistan rejects Indian allegations to incite Sikhs on Khalistan issue”

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.

Shah was called in to register India's objection to Pakistan making inflammatory remarks and displaying posters with such messages at places where the pilgrims visited.

Gopal Singh Chawla, Secretary General of Pakistan's Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC), has been known to be a pro-Khalistani extremist and was the one who ensured that the Indian diplomats are not allowed to enter Gurudwara Panja Sahib in Lahore. The Pakistani Government has made assiduous efforts to preserve religious sites and facilitate visits of people of all faiths, he told an Indian daily.

However, Pakistani authorities reportedly blocked the Indian High Commission from performing basic consular and protocol duties for Indian citizens.

India on Monday summoned Pakistan's Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi and lodged a strong protest over attempts to raise the Khalistan issue during the visit of Sikh pilgrims to that country, while asking Islamabad to immediately cease all such activities aimed at undermining India's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Tensions between Pakistan and India have been high since the killing of a Kashmiri freedom fighter Burhan Wani in July 2016.

These protests had started in India and other parts of the world before the Sikh yatrees arrived in Pakistan. Such repeated attempts by authorities and entities in Pakistan to extend support to secessionist movements in India amount to interference in the internal affairs of India.

In reply to the Indian external affairs ministry's assertion that the latest incident went against the spirit of the 1974 protocol governing the exchange of pilgrim visits between the two countries, the FO said Islamabad was committed to "continuing such cooperation".

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.

Earlier on Saturday, the MEA said that the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan was "suddenly asked to return while en route to the shrine, for unspecified "security" reasons".

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman had on Sunday rejected the allegations as "baseless".

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