External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Friday said two Pakistani diplomats were denied permission to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival because of “inputs from various agencies.” But one of the diplomats, chief of the Pakistan High Commission’s media wing Manzoor Memon said they were denied permission though they had registered themselves for the conference. Hum sukoon se baithe hain. Agle saal jayenge Jaipur (We are comfortable here. We will go to Jaipur next year), he said.
Mr. Khurshid himself fielded questions about the issue, as the Ministry invited journalists to the venue of his call on the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, around noon.
“Diplomatic requests are made, from time to time, to the Ministry for travelling across the country. In most cases, these requests are… accepted. In some cases for specific reasons, at that time best known to the Ministry and other agencies that are consulted, we have to say no,” he said adding that one should not confuse any “coincidence with any specific decision vis-à-vis the Jaipur Literary Festival, or for that matter anything else.”
While Mr. Memon also wanted to go to Ajmer to visit the shrine of Khwaja Moiunuddin Chisti, the other diplomat, Naeem Anwar of the High Commission’s trade wing, had sought permission to visit Agra, where a trade partnership summit will be held. Mr. Memon, who wanted to be in Jaipur when Pakistani journalists and authors visited the city, was denied permission to go to both places. Mr. Anwar also wanted to go to Agra, though Pakistani presence at the meeting will be thinner after Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim cancelled his visit following the skirmishes along the Line of control.
But Indian and Pakistani diplomats who have served in each other’s country spoke about frequent rejection of applications for visiting places other than the national capital. At one time, Indian diplomats could visit Karachi where India had a consulate. Likewise, Pakistani diplomats could travel to Mumbai unfettered.
But after the closure of the two consulates, the movement of Indian and Pakistani diplomats is restricted to the national capitals, and permission to visit other places is not granted as a matter of routine.