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India 'willing' to work with Pakistan to extend the number of shrines open to visitors

The claim comes just days after a prominent Hindu politician from Imran Khan's party requested India to grant visas

India willing to work with Pakistan to extend the number of shrines open to visitors
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India said on Friday (January 28, 2022) that both the Indian and Pakistani sides are interested in expanding the agreed-upon list of shrines and modes of travel under the 1974 treaty for religious visits.

New Delhi claims to have a "constructive approach" to the issue and is "ready" to engage with Islamabad on it.

In a virtual media briefing, Ministry of External Affairs Official Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi also discussed India's position on the subject and whether or not clearances had been granted, saying, "As you are aware, under the 1974 Protocol between India and Pakistan, visits to religious shrines are being facilitated regularly. There is an interest on both sides to expand the agreed list of shrines and mode of travel."

He went on to say that it should be discussed as part of the protocol.

"Let me underline that India has a positive approach on this matter and is willing to engage the Pakistani side. You are also aware that currently restrictions are in place on movement and gatherings in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the situation normalises, we expect that this time can be utilised to hold discussions under the bilateral Protocol," Bagchi said.

"It is our hope to facilitate early exchange of visits to all shrines of interest to pilgrims," he stated.

The claim comes just days after a prominent Hindu member from Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's ruling party requested India to grant visas to a delegation of pilgrims planning to visit the nation as part of the two countries' faith tourism effort.

Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council and a member of the National Assembly, had announced that he will lead a party of Pakistani pilgrims to India on a special chartered flight of Pakistan Airlines International on January 29. (PIA).

Regarding human rights crimes in Balochistan, Bagchi asked Pakistan's 'continuing' authorities to put an end to the abuses in the province.

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