No request for asylum for Hindus from Pakistan: Govt
Patiala (Punjab): No request for asylum has been received from the Hindus who have recently crossed over to India on pilgrimage visas, the government on Sunday said.
"As far as we know, the families have come on pilgrimage. So far, no (Hindu) family that is based in Pakistan (and has come here) has approached us for asylum," Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur said.
"Our ministry will swing into action only after receiving any specific request," she told reporters here.
She said asylum can be given for short term, while for long term asylum the Union Home Ministry has to take up the matter and it would vary from case to case.
The Congress MP from Patiala pointed out that India and Pakistan had agreed in 1972 not to interfere in each other's internal affairs. However, "We do request Pakistan, on humanitarian grounds, to look after the interests of minorities," she said.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had recently formed a committee of three Parliamentarians headed by federal minister Maula Bux Chandio to meet the Hindu community across Sindh following reports of their mass migration to India due to forced conversions, kidnapping for ransom and extortion demands.
Asked about the alleged "mental torture" to Indian death row convict Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan, who is lodged in Pakistan's Kot Lakhpat Jail, she said, "We have directed the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan to have consular accesses of Sarabjit Singh."
Regarding safety of Sikhs in the US after the Oak Creek incident in which six Sikhs were killed in a shootout incident recently, Kaur said she had met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Ghana capital Accra on August 10 at the funeral of President John Atta Mills and raised the matter very firmly.
She said Clinton herself was in very deep shock about the incident and told her the US administration would try reposing confidence among the Sikhs.