Ministry of External Affairs on expanding list of shrines to visit – The New Indian Express
NEW DELHI: India said on Friday there was interest from the Indian and Pakistani sides to expand the agreed list of shrines and modes of travel under the 1974 protocol for visits to religious places, saying that she had a positive approach on the issue and is ready to engage with Islamabad on this.
The claim comes days after a prominent Hindu lawmaker from Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ruling party urged India to issue visas to a delegation of pilgrims to visit the country as part of its religious tourism initiative between the two neighbors.
The Chief Patron of the Hindu Council of Pakistan and Member of the National Assembly, Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, has said he will lead a delegation of Pakistani pilgrims to India on January 29 on a special Pakistan Airlines International (PIA) flight. .
Asked about India’s position on the matter and whether any approvals had been given, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said: “As you know, under the 1974 protocol between the India and Pakistan, visits to religious shrines are regularly facilitated.
There is interest on both sides to expand the agreed list of shrines and modes of travel. “This must of course be discussed within the framework of the protocol. Let me emphasize that India has a positive approach on this issue and is willing to engage the Pakistani side. You are also aware that currently restrictions are in place on travel and gatherings given the COVID-19 Pandemic. As the situation normalizes, we expect that this time can be used to hold discussions under the bilateral protocol,” Bagchi said.
“We hope to facilitate the rapid exchange of visits to all shrines of interest to pilgrims,” he said.