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TAXILA, Nov 13: The Australian Sikhs on Wednesday proposed promotion of religious tourism between the two countries which would not only improve Pakistans image in Europe but also bring religious tourists back to the country.

A group of 24 pilgrims including 16 men, 30 female and one child from various cities of Australia are currently in Hassanabdal to offer religious rituals in connection with birth anniversary celebration of Sikh spiritual leader Baba Guru Nanak.

The group consists unique blend of pilgrims as among them are two Australian-born Sikhs who are visiting Pakistan fist time and some of them born before partition in different cities of this part of the then subcontinent and migrated to India in 1947 and then to Australia.

Talking to Dawn at Gurdwara Punja Sahib Hassanabdal on Wednesday, they said that Pakistan was sacred to them because of various worship places for Sikh especially birth place of the founder of Sikh religion.

Honey Singh, a Sikh pilgrim, said they found Pakistan different from what the Western media painted as far as law and order situation and state of minority were concerned.

He said that these young boys and girls were encouraged by hospitality of the people here.

Talking to this reporter, Kanta Devi said that she born in a village of Chechawatni in 1939 and in 1947 when she was just 6 years old her family shifted to India.

She said that she was much happy to see again her Janam Bhoomi (birth place) after several decades.

She said that she got a new lease of life by visiting this holy land.

Darshan Kaur who born in Sahiwal said the visit to her birth place had great sentimental value.

She said that visiting the religious places and pay homage to the place where Guru was born before death was her last wish.

She said that there are thousands of Sikhs in Australia and New Zealand who wanted to visit the religious places because of negative image of Pakistan promoted by media.

Harbans Kaur and Harmeel Kaur two sisters who hails from 84 Chak of Layualpur (now Faisalabad) were born here in 1932 and 1942 respectively termed it a unique experience to visit the land after almost 66 years where they were born.

They said that it was their wish that they may see their holy places again in Pakistan in their life and they are glad to see their religious places here and touching the land where they were born.—Amjad Iqbal