The Pakistani authorities have put in place extensive security arrangements for Indian Sikh pilgrims attending events to mark Guru Nanak's birth anniversary in the wake of the Taliban threat to target Indians in retaliation for the execution of terrorist Ajmal Kasab.
A red alert has been issued at all places where Sikhs will attend such events on Wednesday. No vehicle without a special sticker issued by the police will be allowed to enter Nankana Sahib district, officials said on Tuesday.
More than 2,000 Sikhs from India are in Pakistan for the birth anniversary celebrations at Gurdwara Janamasthan in Nankana Sahib, Guru Nanak's birthplace, 80 km from here. They will also travel to other places.
Pakistani authorities were tight-lipped about the reasons for the heightened security, though officials of the Indian High Commission acknowledged that these were linked to the recent threat by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.
The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), which looks after the shrine of Pakistan's minority communities and makes arrangements for visits by Indian pilgrims, said it had put in place unprecedented security measures for visiting Sikhs.
"We have almost double the usual number of Elite Force personnel and local police, and we have set up a good number of check posts (in Nankana Sahib). We have also installed more security gates and cameras inside and outside the gurdwara," ETPB deputy director Faraz Abbas told PTI.
Pakistan Rangers, too, have been put on high alert. "We are not compromising on the security of visiting Sikhs because of the current law and order situation," Abbas said.
The Sikhs will return to India on December 4 after participating in the celebrations and religious ceremonies.
Besides Nankana Sahib, the pilgrims will visit Gurdwara Panja Sahib at Hassanabdal.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan had said last week that his group would target Indians in retaliation for the hanging of Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The Taliban have demanded that India should return the body of Kasab, who was buried after his execution in a Pune jail.