India declines visas to almost half of Pakistani pilgrims

LAHORE (Web Desk): The Indian government has declined to issue visas to 239 Pakistani pilgrims — out of 488 applicants — who intend to visit Ajmer Sharif to attend the annual Urs of revered Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti Gharib Nawaz.

According to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony’s spokesperson, more than 200 Pakistani pilgrims remained deprived to pay homage to the Sufi saint.

He added that the Indian authorities had also declined visas for five officials deputed to take care of the pilgrims during their stay in India.

He, however, said that only one out of the six officials was allowed to go with the pilgrims.

All the pilgrims have been conveyed through Short Service Message (SMS) to reach Lahore from where they would embark on a journey to India on Tuesday, he added.

Last year, the Indian embassy also declined to issue visas to Pakistani pilgrims for attending the annual Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti.

In a statement, the religious minister expressed dismay over the non-issuance of visas to religious tourists.

He said the Indian embassy had asked the ministry to complete all the arrangements for the departure of pilgrims for Urs following all the standard operating procedures issued by it.