Pakistan

Pakistan Issues Visas to Indian Sikhs for Guru Nanak’s 554th Birthday

Pakistan has issued around 3,000 visas to Sikh pilgrims from India enabling them to attend the 554th birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak scheduled to be held in Pakistan from November 25 to December 4, 2023.

Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was born in Nankana Sahib, a town near Lahore, and spent his last years in Kartarpur, a village on the banks of the Ravi river. His birthplace and his final resting place are among the most sacred sites for Sikhs, who revere him as their first Guru.

Every year, thousands of Sikh pilgrims from India and other countries visit Pakistan to pay homage to Baba Guru Nanak and other Sikh Gurus and saints, whose shrines are located in various parts of the country. Pakistan has a rich Sikh heritage and culture, and hosts several holy places of the religion, such as Dera Sahib, Panja Sahib, Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib.

The issuance of visas to the Sikh pilgrims from India is covered under the framework of the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974, which allows the citizens of both countries to visit certain religious places across the border. The protocol aims to promote people-to-people contacts and interfaith harmony between the two neighbours.

Pakistan’s Charge d’Affaires in India Aizaz Khan extended his heartfelt felicitations to the pilgrims and wished them a safe journey. He said that Pakistan was committed to facilitating the Sikh pilgrims and providing them with all the necessary arrangements and security during their stay in the country.

The Sikh pilgrims will arrive in Pakistan through the Wagah border and the Kartarpur corridor, a visa-free initiative that was inaugurated by former Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2019. The corridor connects the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, with the Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak in India, and allows the pilgrims to visit the shrine without a visa or passport.

The Sikh pilgrims will participate in various religious ceremonies and events to mark the 554th birthday of Baba Guru Nanak, which falls on November 30 this year. They will also visit other historical and cultural sites in Pakistan, and interact with the local Sikh community and other Pakistanis.

The visit of the Sikh pilgrims from India is expected to strengthen the ties between the two countries and foster a spirit of peace and goodwill. It is also a testament to the respect and tolerance that Pakistan has for all religions and minorities.

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