NEW DELHI: The mystery surrounding two Indian Sufi clerics, who went missing in Pakistan, deepened further Friday with Pakistan’s foreign ministry saying the interior ministry was probing the matter, but had not made any headway so far.
Amidst reports that the duo had been detained by Pakistani Intelligence agencies, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj used Twitter to announce that she had taken up the matter with the Pakistan government.
The Indian high commissioner in Islamabad had lodged a strong complaint with the foreign ministry in Islamabad on Thursday evening.
“Indian nationals Syed Asif Ali Nizami aged 80 years and his nephew Nazim Ali Nizami had gone to Pakistan on 8 March 2017,” she tweeted early on Friday.
“Syed Asif Ali Nizami is Head Priest (Sajjadanashin) of Hazrat Nizammuddin Aulia dargah. Both are missing after they landed at Karachi airport….We have taken up this matter with government of Pakistan and requested them for an update on both the Indian nationals in Pakistan.”
The duo had entered Pakistan via Karachi on March 8. The trip was part of a traditional two-way exchange of clerics between the two countries as the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi is associated with Gharib Nawaz, who is venerated in Data Darbar Lahore.
According to one report, while the head priest was allowed to go to Karachi to visit relatives, his nephew Nazim was stopped at the Lahore airport on grounds of incomplete travel papers.
Indian official sources suspect foul play in the whole episode. “Why would someone check visa for a domestic flight, days after they entered Pakistan through Karachi?” asked an official, pointing to Pakistan media reports that the two have been picked up by intelligence agencies on account of their “suspicious” movements.
Asif Nizami’s son had appealed to the government expressing his concern over the peculiar disappearance of his father and cousin in Pakistan.
“We appeal to the Indian government to get to know about the whereabouts of both. They had gone on a pilgrimage and now there is no information about them,” he said in Delhi.