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Pro-Palestine Activists Granted Pakistan Visa Till Lahore

PTI 02 Dec 2010, 19:41:34 IST
New Delhi, Dec 2: After a long reluctance, Pakistan today relented and issued visas to a group of pro- Palestine Gaza-bound Indian activists to undertake a truncated road journey up to Lahore denying them permission to go through Quetta and Balochistan.

34 of the 51-member group, which includes some journalists, were given the visa late this evening to go up to Lahore by crossing the Wagah land border on Saturday. The others are likely to get their visas tomorrow.

Ashim Roy, one of the organisers of the month-long road journey to Gaza, told PTI that the Indian contingent has been allowed to travel to Lahore, from where the members will take a flight to Iran to continue their road journey to reach Gaza on December 28.

Originally, the activists were scheduled to travel by road through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt before entering Gaza with medical aid.

The Pakistan High Commission here denied visas for the activists for their planned road through Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and Balochistan in Pakistan.

Despite the uncertainty, the caravan was flagged off from Raj Ghat this morning by senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh and Mani Shanker Aiyar.

The entire contingent went to the High Commission, where a delegation of the activists discussed the matter with officials and later in the evening they were given visas till Lahore.

Roy said there were earlier denied visas citing "security reasons" as the route they will take is a "very tough one".

"Since Lahore is considered a safe place compared to other cities, we requested them to grant us visa at least till the city so that we can travel to Tehran or some city in Iran from there via air," he said.

A Japanese national, who is part of the convoy, has been granted a visa to visit Pakistan. PTI