To celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on November 12 , the Pakistan government would allow an over three-time increase in the number of members of Sikh jathas heading to Nankana Sahib from India to take part in the mammoth festivities — a first since partition in 1947.
There will, however, be no cap on the Sikhs visiting Nankana Sahib on the occasion from other countries like the North America, Europe, Central Asia, Australia and Europe.
A decision to this effect has been taken by a high-powered Religious Tourism and Heritage committee headed by Governor of Punjab (Pakistan) Chaudhary Mohammad Sarvar and comprising of Pakistan’s four federal ministers, three provincial ministers, representatives of the Evacuee Trust Property Board and representatives of Sikh bodies.
As a matter of practice, Pakistan has been extending just about 3,000 visas to Indian Sikhs every year for their visit to Nankana Sahib to take part in the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev and there has been no increase in this number since decades.
The high-powered committee has urged Pakistan’s Federal government to make arrangements for the stay of pilgrims and for issuance of visas.
This was revealed by Pawan Singh Arora, Public Relations Officer to the Governor of Punjab (Pakistan), while talking to Tribune from Lahore over the phone.
“The decision has been taken so as to ensure maximum participation in the festivities by Sikhs from India. The preparations for the celebrations are going at a large scale and the Federal and the Provincial governments will extend a red carpet to the pilgrims from India and abroad,” said Arora.
Pakistan has acquired more land for the development of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur during the last week and the total land with the premises has increased to 104 acres.
The Government of Pakistan was also reaching out to the Sikhs based in the UK, Europe and other countries for making the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak as a gala event.
Pakistan Tourism Board Chairman Sayed Zulfiqar held a meeting with Sikhs of the UK in London on Monday.
He asserted in a meeting, organised by the Central Gurdwara (Khalsa-Jatha), London, that despite highs and lows of the Indo-Pak bilateral relationships, the work on Kartarpur corridor and preservation of other historic buildings has been going on unabated.
Zulfiqar, who was the Special Assistant to the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, said Pakistan was yearning to see the global Sikh community participating and contributing in the 550th birth anniversary celebrations in a big way.