A fresh row between India and Pakistan cropped on Tuesday after the emergence of a picture of Sikh extremist Gopal Singh Chawla meeting globally designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed, the chief of the terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in the media. This gave fresh fuel to the already ripe diplomatic feud between the two countries on the issue of disallowing Indian diplomats in Pakistan to hold a meeting with Indian pilgrims visiting Lahore. The latest controversy has raked up a bigger issue of security.
It is alleged that the incident of Indian diplomats not being allowed to enter Gurudwara Panja Sahib in Lahore was orchestrated by this Gopal Singh Chawla who is the Secretary General of Pakistan’s Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC). He is also a well-known pro-Khalistani extremist.
It is alleged that the extremist follows orders of Pakistani authorities, even though the picture that has emerged showing Gopal Singh Chawla and Hafiz Saeed together, was potentially taken some years ago.
The Indian side says that the intention of the Pakistani administration is very clear because the authorities there allows ‘secessionist’ speeches to be delivered and ‘Khalistani’ posters to be openly put up. Many believe this to be the reason behind Pakistan’s Deputy Chief of Mission being called up by the Ministry of External Affairs and a strong protest was laodged with the Pakistani official where India called upon Pakistan to “immediately stop all such activities that were aimed at undermining India’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and incitement of disharmony in India.”
It is alleged that Pakistani administration did not allow the Indian High Commissioner in POkistan a meet with the 1,800 odd Sikh pilgrims visiting Lahore at the moment. India claimed that Pakistan had violated the standard practice. There are also allegations that some “inflammatory” statements were made and pro Kahistani posters were displayed.
A bilateral protocol between India and Pakistan forms the basis of a yearly visit of Sikh pilgrims to the Religious Shrines of 1974 in Pakistan. While logistics issues at times of heightened tensions between India and Pakistan have impacted these pilgrimage visits in the past, pro Khalistan slogans being raised at the time of the pilgrimage appears to be a new tactic by Pakistan.
All of the allegations of ‘incitement’ of Sikh pilgrims made by India have been negated by Pakistan through a press statement issued by the Pakistan Foreign Ministry.
“Pakistan categorically rejects Indian allegations of “attempts to incite Indian pilgrims” on the issue of ‘Khalistan.’ By spreading such falsehoods, India has chosen to deliberately stoke further controversy around the visit of Sikh pilgrims, currently attending the Baisakhi and Khalsa Janamdin ceremonies in Pakistan”, the statement said.
It is just days that both the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan would be in London to attend the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM). It is amidst that backdrop that the heightened tensions between the nations have started again. According to sources, while there could be a mild handshake between the two prime ministers, there is literally no chance of any meeting because none of the parties have approached each other for a pull-aside or a bilateral meeting.
(Adapted from IndiaToday.in)