Religious diplomacy: After Sikhs, Pakistan issues visas to 136 Indian Hindu pilgrims

Pakistan has issued visas to 136 Indian Hindus and Sikhs pilgrims for visits to revered Hindu religious sites in the country, the Pakistan High Commission informed issuing a statement

Dec 02, 2021
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After Sikhs, Pakistan issues visas to 136 Indian Hindu pilgrims (Photo: Tribune India)

Pakistan has issued visas to 136 Indian Hindus and Sikhs pilgrims for visits to revered Hindu religious sites in the country, the Pakistan High Commission informed issuing a statement. This came weeks after several hundred Sikhs and Hindus pilgrims visited Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan.

Releasing the statement, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi said that a group of Indian Hindu pilgrims would be visiting Pakistan to participate in the 313th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Shiv Avtari Satguru Sant Shadaram Sahib in its southern Sindh province from December 4 to 15.

They will also visit Shadani Darbar, which was founded in 1786 by a Lahore-born Sant Shadaram Sahib. It is listed in the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, 1974. 

Apart from Indians, pilgrims from other countries would also visit the sites. 

In the statement released on Wednesday, the High Commission said, “The issuance of pilgrimage visas to Hindu and Sikh pilgrims is in line with the Government of Pakistan’s efforts for facilitating visits to religious shrines,” adding the move is also “reflective of Pakistan’s respect for religious places of all faiths and efforts for promoting interfaith harmony.’’ 

Last month, over 8,000 Sikh pilgrims - including around 3000 Indians - from all over the world visited Pakistan to celebrate the birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.

Pakistan, as part of its latest policy initiatives, has been looking to boost its tourism. Notably, the government is marketing its ancient Gandhara civilization in Buddhist countries, including in Sri Lanka, to attract more non-Islamic religious tourists. However, most sites, ancient temples, and other monuments are in bad shape due to improper maintenance. It also undermines the country's effort to boost religious tourism. 

Pakistan has a huge scope for religious and cultural tourism, especially from Indians. However, its strained ties with New Delhi greatly affect this potential. 

(SAM) 

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