Pak to Take up Issue of India Sending Lahore Students Back Home
A Pakistani school group’s trip to India was cut short by the MEA’s decision to send them back to Lahore.
On Thursday, Pakistan said it would take up with India the issue of about 50 students from Lahore being sent back following the beheading of two Indian soldiers, and criticised New Delhi for being "a silent spectator".
Delhi-based NGO ‘Routes2Roots’ had invited the Pakistani students as part of their student "Exchange for Change" Programme.
They were sent back on Wednesday after the government advised the NGO against hosting them, saying the time was not "appropriate" for such exchanges.
Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria blamed hardliners for India's move to send back the students:
Hindu extremist organisations are involved while the government is watching as a silent spectator. In India, growing incidents of intolerance, extremism and terrorism have attracted the world’s attention... India’s hostile policy towards Pakistan, and persecution of religious minorities including Muslims, Christians and others within India have been noted by the International community with concern.Nafees Zakaria, Foreign Office Spokesperson, Pakistan
He said Pakistan would take up the matter with the Indian government.
The students of Lahore Grammar School International were sent back on Wednesday after the beheading of Naib Subedar Paramjeet Singh and BSF Head Constable Prem Sagar by Pakistan's Border Action Team (BAT) on 1 May.
They came to India on the same day when the barbaric and inhuman act of killing and mutilating our soldiers happened. The ministry advised the NGO that it was not an appropriate time for such exchanges after we learnt that the children had crossed over to India on 1 May.Gopal Baglay, Spokesperson, MEA
This abrupt end to their trip prevented the students from not only seeing the Taj Mahal, but also stopped them from meeting the students of Delhi’s Tagore International School.
The Indian and Pakistani students had been communicating with each other for over a year. They had been writing letters and exchanging postcards for a year, and this India visit was a culmination of that friendship.
This is not the first time that such a visit is being cancelled. Earlier, a similar trip by these students scheduled for October 2016 had been postponed in the aftermath of the surgical strikes by India.
It was unfortunate that such an incident took place in India. When we were informed of the cancellation of our programme, we were in a state of shock and could not believe that we all had to go back. All the children were very unhappy about going back without meeting their pen pals. Inshallah, we shall soon come back in a more friendly atmosphere.Dr Shazia Iqbal, Principal, Lahore Grammar School International
(With inputs from PTI.)
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