India denied issuing visas for pilgrims visiting Ajmer Sharif Dargah: Pak Minister
Minister of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sahibzada Noor Al Haq Qadri on Monday said that India has denied issuing visas to the Pakistani pilgrims, who wanted to attend the Urs celebration of Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti.
The celebration is slated to be held in Ajmer Sharif Dargah in India this month.
Dawn quoted the Minister as saying that around 500 Pakistani pilgrims were supposed to leave for India on March 7.
The remarks by the Minister has come amid escalating tension between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack on February 14 that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and the series of airstrikes by both the neighbouring countries since the past few days.
“India’s extremist face has come forward,” Qadri said in a statement adding that “India is held hostage by religious extremists.”
The Pakistani Minister further claimed that this is the second time consecutively when India has refused visas to Pakistani pilgrims.
The previous year in March, India had reportedly refused to issue visas to 503 Pakistani pilgrims visiting the Urs celebration. However, only 190 of 400 visa requests had been approved by the Indian Embassy during the Urs of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia in New Delhi, he added.
Qadri further noted that the Indian embassy in Islamabad had informed the ministry regarding the cancellation of visas of the pilgrims. The embassy is yet to return the passports of the visa applicants.
Every year, around 500 Pakistani pilgrims attend the Urs celebration at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, considered to be one of the holiest Muslim shrines in India. ANI