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India, Pakistan allowing movement of pilgrims is ‘good omen’ for bilateral ties, says top diplomat

New Delhi: Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner to India, Aftab Hasan Khan, has termed the movement of pilgrims between the two countries a “good omen” for bilateral ties. Khan had accompanied over 50 Pakistani pilgrims who visited the famous Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi on Monday.

It was the first such batch of Pakistani pilgrims to visit India since March 2020.

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Speaking to Zee News, the top Pakistani diplomat in India said, “It’s a good omen that people are interacting, and more people should visit, people from India should go to Pakistan and people from Pakistan should come to India. We are following a very liberal visa regime at the Pakistani high commission and issuing a maximum number of visas to the Indian applicants desirous of visiting Pakistan. So, hope, let’s see in the future, it’s a good omen for the bilateral relationship”

Seen as pilgrimage diplomacy, the visit by Pakistani pilgrims comes even as Indian pilgrims are on a visit to Pakistan.

Around 1500 Indian pilgrims have been visiting Pakistan from November 17-26, 2021 via the Attar-Wagah border a visit that coincides with Gurupurab, the birth anniversary of the first Sikh Guru – Guru Nanak.

Aftab Hasan Khan remarked, “It is very heartening to see that pilgrim from Pakistan have arrived to pay obeisance at the Nizamuddin Dargah on the Urs and we hope that this will continue in the future also, due to covid restrictions it was suspended and now it has started again and we hope it will continue in the future”

Both the visits are covered under the 1974 Bilateral Protocol between India and Pakistan on ‘Visits to Religious Shrines’.

The Indian pilgrims are visiting Gurudwara Shri Darbar Sahib, Gurudwara Shri Panja Sahib, Gurudwara Shri Dehra Sahib, Gurudwara Shri Nankana Sahib, Gurudwara Shri Kartarpur Sahib and Gurudwara Shri Sachha Sauda.

Asked about his visit and his namaz at the holy place, he said “We came here, we paid our obeisance, prayed for the peace and stability in the region and it was a wonderful and an auspicious occasion, Urs Mubarak of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. We prayed here with all pilgrims. Prayed for peace and stability in the region”.

The movement globally and between India and Pakistan has been suspended amid the covid crisis. As the covid crisis abates India is opening up. Earlier this month, New Delhi announced the process of giving tourist visas.

Pakistani pilgrims who were present at the Dargah appreciated the Indian govt for facilitating the process of the visit. One pilgrim said, “We got a lot of love and respect here. we are happy to be here. we want increased engagement”.

Another pilgrim from Gujranwala said, “happy to be here at the Dargah”. One pilgrim from Lahore said, “We thank the India govt for giving permission to be here so that we can offer dua here”.