Islamabad starts issuing visas to Sikh pilgrims - GulfToday

Islamabad starts issuing visas to Sikh pilgrims

Kartarpure shrine

Picture used for illustrative purpose only.

Tariq Butt

The Pakistan embassy in New Delhi has started issuing visas to Indian Sikh pilgrims who want to participate in the Pakistan-India Nagar Kirtan, which would start on Oct.28 in New Delhi and reach Janam Astana Shri Nankana Sahib (Pakistan) on Oct.31.

The Nagar Kirtan is a rally for the Sikh religious book, Guru Granth Sahib, which is decorated in Palki Sahib and will be brought from New Delhi to Nankana Sahib accompanied by Sikh pilgrims.

Invitations to welcome the Nagar Kirtan at the Wagah border have been sent to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri and other federal and provincial ministers.

Preparations are underway to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji in a historical manner in India and Pakistan.

The former head of Delhi Gurdwara Management Company and the administrator of Nagar Kirtan Sardar Paramjit Singh Sarna said that the Pakistani high commission had started issuing visas for Nagar Kirtan.

A total of 1,500 visas would be issued and the process for most of the visas has been completed. He said Pakistan government and Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee had given permission for Nagar Kirtan in 2018.

Sarna said two delegations would visit Pakistan - first on Sept.20 and then on Oct.2. These delegations would be given one week visa, while the participants of the Nagar Kirtan are being issued visa from Oct.31 till Nov.14.

He said he arrived in Pakistan a few weeks back and has invited Punjab governor, Punjab chief minister, federal minister for religious affairs, other ministers and committees of Sain Mian Mir Foundation, Hazrat Data Ali Hajweri and Hazrat Baba Farid shrines to welcome Nagar Kirtan at Wagah border.

Sarna said the charge of Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee is in the hands of people who are doing politics. He observed that the committee was collecting money from different gurdwaras for Nagar Kirtan but Pakistan has only given permission for one Nagar Kirtan.

Sarna said they would take out a small Nagar Kirtan from New Delhi to Bahadur Garh. He noted that Shri Akal Takht Sahib has also supported them and declared that they stand with the Nagar Kirtan.

Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee’s Pardhan Sardar Satwant Singh said hundreds of Sikhs would welcome Nagar Kirtan at the Wagah border and that arrangements of food and stay are being made for the participants.

After the creation of Pakistan, this will be the first religious rally of Sikhs, which would move from New Delhi and reach Nankana Sahib.

Meanwhile, a committee comprising heads of political and religious parties of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has decided to postpone a proposed march towards the Line of Control (LoC) until Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept.27.

A meeting of the committee presided over by AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider was held at Kashmir House in Islamabad.

On Aug.9, four days after India scrapped special status of occupied Kashmir through a rushed presidential order and put the whole territory under a lockdown, a multiparty meeting was convened by Haider to discuss the situation and come up with a unanimous course of action.

As a wide understanding at the meeting was to stage a march towards the LoC, the AJK prime minister was mandated by the participants to set modalities and fix a date for it. However, no progress could be made on the matter due to Haider’s month-long foreign tour.

On his return on Sept.11, a general meeting of some heads and representatives of political and religious parties was held, but a decision on the matter was again deferred till Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to a rally in Muzaffarabad.

At Friday’s rally, Haider spoke about the very demand and desire in AJK to “trample down the LoC.”

Responding to it, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he knew that majority of youths in AJK wanted to stage a march on the LoC out of passion and commitment. However, he urged them to defer a march until he fought their case at the UN General Assembly.