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Pakistan issues visas to 1,100 Indian Sikh pilgrims for Baisakhi festival

Indian Sikhs arrive at Wagah railway station near Lahore in April, 2019.
Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has issued 1,100 visas to Sikh pilgrims from India to join the annual Baisakhi celebrations being held in Pakistan from April 12-22.

The visas have been issued as a “special gesture” by Pakistan government as the Sikh community will be celebrating the beginning of their new year. Pakistan embassy extended felicitations to all those celebrating the Baisakhi festival and wished the Sikh community a safe journey to Pakistan.

“The issuance of pilgrimage visas is part of the Government of Pakistan’s efforts for facilitating visits to religious shrines. This also reflects Pakistan’s commitment to faithfully implement the bilateral protocol on visits to religious shrines” according to an official statement from the high commission.

A large number of Sikh pilgrims travel from India to Pakistan every year to commemorate several religious festivals and religious occasions under the 1974 framework of the Pakistan-India protocol on visits to religious shrines. “Pakistan takes pride in preserving sacred religious places and extending all possible facilitation for the visiting pilgrims of all faiths,” the statement reads.

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

Pakistan is home to one of Sikhism’s sacred sites. In 2019, Pakistan opened the historic Kartarpur corridor to welcome Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib – the holiest Sikh Shrine in the world – and to connect Pakistan and India via a visa-free religious tourism corridor.

What is Baisakhi?

Baisakhi, also known as Vaisakhi, is a traditional harvest festival celebrated by Sikhs all over the world. The ancient festival, dating back to the 17th century, marks the beginning of a new solar year and harvest season.

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