On the directions of the Akal Takht, Sikhs will observe August 14 as 'ardas divas' and offer prayers for "granting the community easy access to gurdwaras" that became part of Pakistan following Partition in 1947.
Since Pakistan came into existence, Sikhs in their ardas (daily prayers) have sought the Waheguru's blessings for "granting them easy access to those shrines from which the community has been separated".
There are 173 gurdwaras in Pakistan, with the important ones being the shrine at Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak; Panja Sahib; Dera Sahib in Lahore; and Kartarpur Sahib, where the first guru breathed his last.
While directing Sikhs in India and in other countries to observe August 14 as 'ardas divas', Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said that even after 68 years of Partition Sikhs had not forgotten the shrines they had left behind in Pakistan. This "separation" had become a part of the Sikh psyche and they continued to seek "easy access" to these shrines, he said.
Visa centre at Amritsar
Raising the demand of setting up a visa centre in Amritsar, the jathedar said, "The access to our shrines will become easy if the Pakistan government sets up its visa centre at Amritsar. Now we have to travel 500 km to Delhi for the visa stamp on our passports."
He justified the demand saying Lahore and even Nanakana Sahib were closer to Amritsar than Delhi. So the Centre should permit Pakistan to have its visa centre here, he added.
The jathedar also reminded the governments of the two countries of the Sikh demand for a pilgrim corridor between Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district and the shrine of Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan. The two places are just 2 km apart lying on either side of the Ravi. The gurdwara at Kartarpur Sahib is visible from Dera Baba Nanak.