NEW DELHI: It is yet to be seen whether Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s advisor Sartaj Aziz’s meeting with Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval will break the ice between the two countries. However, Islamabad’s complaint about Aziz’s alleged mistreatment has evoked a strong response from the Indian establishment, which said the top diplomat was extended all courtesies, including the chance to say adab (hello) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Pakistan had on Sunday complained that the Indian authorities had denied permission to 87-year-old Aziz to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar or interact with the media. Islamabad took it as a barb from New Delhi and termed it a contravention of diplomatic protocol.
“They have no reason to complain. We were gracious hosts. We extended tarmac access, gave additional rooms, provided armoured cars (not given to every foreign minister) and other conveniences keeping the special security requirements in view,” said officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Devotees thronged the Golden Temple in large numbers on Sunday, which was the death anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur. The visit for VIPs and VVIPS to the temple was arranged on Saturday. Aziz, however, landed a day earlier than scheduled.
“We even did all the arrangements despite a last minute change of programme and (Aziz's) advanced arrival in Amritsar by special flight by more than 12 hours. Fresh flight clearance was issued within minutes. Their head of delegation (Aziz) was therefore present in the official dinner and in the call on PM on December 3,” the officials added. An exception was made for Aziz so that he could arrive and depart from Amritsar, which is not a designated entry or exit point for Pakistani nationals.
Strains in the relations between the two countries have spilled over in recent weeks. Earlier this year, India's home minister Rajnath Singh cut short his visit to Islamabad to attend the Home Ministers’ Conference of SAARC countries. But he cut his visit short and returned to India after his speech was blacked out and his Pakistani counterpart chose to skip the lunch planned for dignitaries.