India, Pak take foreign envoys to two different places

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri (centre with red turban) poses for a picture with diplomats and ambassadors of 91 countries as they pay their respects at the Golden temple in Amritsar on October 22, 2019.  (Photo by NARINDER NANU / AFP)

The governments of both India and Pakistan on Tuesday took foreign diplomats based in New Delhi and Islamabad respectively for conducted tours.

The government of India arranged a visit for the foreign diplomats based in New Delhi to Golden Temple in Amritsar in Punjab on the eve of 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak. The government of Pakistan on the other hand took foreign diplomats based in Islamabad for a tour to the Line of Control— the de facto border between Pakistan and India— to disprove New Delhi's claim that Indian Army had destroyed three terror camps opposite the Tangdhar and Keran sectors in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Eighty-four heads of foreign missions from New Delhi on Tuesday visited the Golden Temple to know about preparations for the celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary Guru Nanak Dev on November 12.

The countries whose heads of foreign missions visited the shrine included Afghanistan, Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, USA and Nepal, PTI reported from Amritsar.

On reaching the temple, they first visited the interpretation centre at its entrance, also known as Golden Temple Plaza. There they were received by SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal and given robes of honour with replicas of the shrine, woolen shawls and a set of Sikh religious books.

Inside the plaza, they watched four short documentaries about the Sikh religion and its history, the history of the Golden Temple and the role of the Sikh community for the well-being of humanity.

All the foreign mission heads paid obeisance at the temple's sanctum sanctorum and spent a few minutes inside.

"All of them experienced a spiritual ambience as Sikh priests recited religious hymns," a SGPC official said.

"This visit of envoys to the sanctum sanctorum of Sikh faith is a befitting mark of respect to Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji who during his five 'udasis' travelled to several parts of the world with his eternal message of peace and oneness of humanity," tweeted Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

Pakistan Army and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan government stated that they had also invited the officials of the High Commission of India in Islamabad to join the foreign diplomats visiting the sectors along the LoC, where the Indian Army claimed to have destroyed three camps, used to facilitate infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan to India.

General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Indian Army, had said on Sunday that six to 10 Pakistan Army personnel had been killed and three terror camps destroyed in a retaliatory action by the Indian Army opposite the Tangdhar and Keran sectors in J&K. He had also said that another terror camp had been severely damaged in the action by the Indian Army personnel and the retaliation had caused substantial harm to the terror infrastructure across the LoC.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said that diplomats from various foreign mission in Islamabad were visiting Jura and Shahkot sectors, PTI reported from Islamabad.

“The Indian side has not joined us in the visit to the LoC neither have they provided coordinates of the alleged ‘launch pads’," Faisal tweeted. He said that "claims by Indian Army chief remain just that: ‘claims’."

Director General (DG) Army's media wing Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said, "What good Indian High Commission is which can’t stand with its Army Chief? Indian High Commission staff didn’t have the moral courage to accompany fellow diplomats in Pakistan to the LOC," he said.

"It is a challenge by Pakistan to India that the way diplomats and media visited the places, India should arrange a similar one-day visit to Kashmir and on their side of the LoC," Ghafoor told media.

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