The government has allowed a special delegation of 500 Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit Nankana Sahib to inaugurate the celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, the Foreign Office said on Tuesday.
A special jatha (caravan) of around 500 Indian Sikh pilgrims crossed over to Pakistan through the Wagah border on Tuesday morning. According to the FO, the pilgrims will commence the celebrations in connection with Baba Guru Nanak’s 500th birth anniversary from his birthplace in Nankana Sahib on Thursday, August 1.
According to a statement released by the ISPR later in the day, 476 pilgrims reached Nankana Sahib today. The remaining 24 pilgrims will not be visiting, the statement added.
The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi had issued visas to the Sikh pilgrims who are part of the jatha on July 26. These visas were granted “over and above” the thousands of visas that Pakistan issues every year under the framework of the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, 1974, the FO said.
“Pakistan feels honoured that celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak by Indian Sikhs are being started from Nankana Sahib, Pakistan,” read the press release.
It recalled that the Pakistani government is taking a number of initiatives, including the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, in order to make the upcoming birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak memorable and historic. “Government of Pakistan also believes in the policy of promoting visits to religious shrines and people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and India,” the statement added.