PM likely to call off Nov 28 Pak visit

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is unlikely to visit Pakistan in November last week. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had asked him early this year to visit Nankana Sahib Gurdwara near Lahore on the occasion of Guru Nanak's birthday on November 28.

Sources said that there's a "very small window" on the PM's visit given that Pakistan was fast moving towards its elections. "I am not very sure that the visit of this nature is possible and probable during that window which is very short," said a source.

Pakistan has expressed enthusiasm for the visit, but for New Delhi, sources said, "there are things that have hurt us very gravely and that sense of hurt is yet not over", referring to the 26/11 attacks.

Meanwhile, trouble is brewing over the issue of visas for Indian pilgrims who visit Pakistan for Gurupurab. Sources said that the Pakistan High Commission, which has been asking for passports since September, has received only about one-third of passports to be issued visas. The MEA and Pakistan High Commission have been in touch over the issue, and despite several reminders, the gurdwara parbandhak committees, which are supposed to send the passports for issue of visas, haven't sent them.

Pakistan is expected to grant 3,000 visas to pilgrims, though last year they issued 3,400 visas owing to the demand. This year, the Pakistan High Commission told the MEA that the passports should be given by October first week, so that there is a 45-day period for processing them by mid-November.

The MEA, in turn, requested the committees to send passports of their nominees, but only about 1,000 have been sent to the High Commission so far. About 600 have been issued visas and another 400 are under the process. The Pakistan High Commission now wants the passports to be deposited by November 19. Sources said that if the committees are not able to deposit the passports by then, it could develop into a crisis with pilgrims not getting visas on time.

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