Pak to issue multiple, on-arrival visas to Sikh pilgrims: Imran Khan
Kartarpur is the “Madina” and Nankana Sahib is the “Mecca” of the Sikh community, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said and assured that his government will issue multiple and on-arrival visas to Sikh pilgrims coming from India and other countries, according to media reports on Tuesday.
Khan said the government will provide Sikh pilgrims maximum possible facilities during their pilgrimage to the holy shrines in Pakistan, the News International reported.
Addressing the International Sikh Convention at the governor house in Lahore on Monday, the Khan said: “I assure that you will be issued multiple visas...This is our responsibility. We will give you visas at the airport.”
Pakistan has decided to complete the process of issuance of visas to Sikh pilgrims by September 30 to facilitate their participation at the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in Nankana Sahib on November 12. The visa process started on September 1. The move is not a favour, it was Pakistan’s obligation, Saama TV quoted Khan as saying.
“Kartarpur is your Madina and Nankana Sahib is your Mecca. We (Muslims) can’t even imagine someone keeping us away from Mecca or Madina. This is a new visa regime so there may some obstacles initially, but we will facilitate you fully,” he said. The convention was attended by Pakistan Punjab governor Chaudhry Sarwar, federal and provincial cabinet members, and Sikh pilgrims from the UK, the US, Canada, Europe and other countries.
New Delhi and Islamabad have agreed that Pakistan would allow 5,000 Sikh visitors per day into the country through the proposed Kartarpur corridor.
The corridor will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak.
Kartarpur will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947.