After Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali’s concert in Bangalore, the popular Pakistani trade fair “Aalishaan Pakistan”, and the Beating Retreat ceremony at the Wagah border crossing, were called off due to increasing unrest between India and Pakistan. This was post the September 18 terrorist attack in Uri, a pre-arranged visit of 60 Pakistani school students to India has also been scrapped from the current scheme of things.
The cancellation comes in the wake of the announcement of “surgical strikes” by India along the LoC.
The school students and their principals from various parts of Pakistan, who were to visit Delhi and Agra, were part of an exchange programme organised by Delhi-based NGO Routes2Roots. The entire group slated to visit India had its visas cleared and tickets booked.
“This visit isn’t suitable at this point. We are keeping in mind the current sentiments of the nation and have decided to cancel this student exchange programme, which is an annual event. These are children we are talking about and security is likely to be an issue. We don’t want to bring upon any unpleasantness over this visit. Things can get difficult to handle then,” said Rakesh Gupta, the founder of the NGO.
This visit by the schoolchildren would have been the culmination of a year-long exchange programme, in which students from both sides become pen friends by writing letters, and sending postcards and collages.
“The visit allows them to finally meet the friends they have been talking to the whole year via mail,” said Gupta, who had visited Pakistan along with the Indian students, right after the Peshawar massacre in 2014.
“We went there, in spite of the Pakistan High Commission telling us to postpone our visit… But this time, the security issues have been raised from both sides, so cancelling it, at least for now, seemed like the right thing to do,” said Gupta.
But the Delhi-based organisation has decided to cancel the visit, so that “nothing ugly happens”.