Pakistan denies refusing visas to Katas Raj pilgrims, says India ‘forced them to withdraw applications’


Pakistan has refused reports of refusing visas to Indian pilgrims, saying the allegations were “completely baseless”.
“Responding to a query regarding the unfounded Indian allegations about “Pakistan refusing visas to 173 Katas Raj pilgrims”, a spokesperson of Pakistan Foreign Ministry said that these were “completely baseless”.
In a statement, he said that Pakistan had made all the arrangements for the visit of the pilgrims, who, “regrettably, were forced to withdraw” their applications from the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi “due to non – issuance of NOC by the Ministry of External Affairs of India.”
“Recently, India has also denied the visits of Sikh pilgrims, followed by that of Zaireens from Pakistan, and now Katas Raj Pilgrims, the opportunity to participate in their religious festivals,” he said.
The spokesman said that Indian actions run counter to the letter and spirit of the 1974 Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines and an obstruction for the people to people contacts.
“Such steps violate the basic human right to religious freedoms and are indicative of the escalatory ladder on which the Government of India has embarked. These are against the spirit of peace and tranquility that Pakistan has been trying to promote.” 

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