Pakistan issues 2,200 visas to Indian Sikh pilgrims for Baisakhi festival

Published April 9, 2019
Devotees participate in the Baisakhi festival. — Reuters/File
Devotees participate in the Baisakhi festival. — Reuters/File

The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has issued 2,200 visas to Sikh pilgrims from India to participate in the annual Baisakhi celebrations being held in Pakistan from April 12 to 21.

According to a press release from the high commission circulated on Tuesday, a large number of Sikh pilgrims from India visit Pakistan to observe various religious festivals every year under the framework of the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, 1974.

The 2,200 visas issued by the Pakistan High Commission in India are in addition to the visas granted to Sikh pilgrims arriving for the event from other countries.

The statement quoted Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood as saying that the Pakistani government's gesture to issue these visas is reflective of the reverence attached to Baisakhi – both in its religious and cultural dimensions.

Baisakhi is an ancient harvest festival which marks the beginning of a new solar year and harvest season.

“We extend our profound greetings and felicitations to all our brothers and sisters celebrating this auspicious occasion and wish the visiting pilgrims a spiritually fulfilling journey,” Mahmood added.

During their visit to Pakistan, the pilgrims will visit the shrines of Panja Sahib, Nankana Sahib, and Kartarpur Sahib.

The issuance of the pilgrimage visas is in line with the government's efforts to facilitate visits to religious shrines and strengthen people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, the statement said.

The development comes a day after the Foreign Office in Islamabad announced that it had agreed to a technical meeting on April 16 between experts from both Pakistan and India for the construction of the Kartarpur Corridor.

The Kartarpur Corridor is expected to provide visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims to the Gurdwara in Kartarpur Sahib ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November this year.

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