New Delhi – A group of 1,700 Sikh pilgrims from India has arrived in Pakistan to take part in the Baisakhi festival scheduled to kick off in Hassan Abdal today (Saturday).
Their arrival marks a development in restoration of religious tourism between the two neighbours after a gap of several months. Hundreds of people from both sides travel across the border to visit religious sites under the ‘Bilateral Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines-1974’. However, the process was disrupted due to on-going tensions between the two countries.
The Indian government had alleged that the Pakistani administration was not issuing visa however this claim was refuted by the Pakistani Foreign Office that termed the accusations as baseless. Meanwhile, talking to The Express Tribune, an official privy to the development said that a total of 2,000 Sikh pilgrims from across the world have arrived including 1,700 Indians, to celebrate the annual pilgrimage known as Baisakhi festival.
He also said that The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony will be celebrating the festival at an official level with federal minister Sardar Muhammad Yousaf serving as special guest at Gurdwara Punja Sahib, Hassan Abdal. “Despite India not allowing our nationals to participate in two major Urs festivals, we are openheartedly welcoming guests from the neighbouring country under full security and hospitality”, stated the official.