Hundreds of Sikh pilgrims to arrive in Pakistan this month for religious festivals

In this file photo, Indian Sikh pilgrims pose on a train bound for Pakistan at the railway station at Attari, some 35kms from Amritsar, on November 21, 2018, as they prepare to leave for Lahore to mark the 549th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2019
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Hundreds of Sikh pilgrims to arrive in Pakistan this month for religious festivals

  • First batch will visit on Friday to participate in annual ‘Jor Mela’ to mark death anniversary of fifth Guru of Sikhism
  • Second batch will come on June 27 to pay homage to former Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjeet Singh

LAHORE: A batch of Sikh pilgrims from India will cross into Pakistan on Friday to participate in the ‘Jor Mela,’ a festival observed to mark the death anniversary of Guru Arjun Dev Ji, the fifth Guru of Sikhism and the first of the two Gurus martyred in the Sikh faith.
A second group of pilgrims is expected to arrive in Pakistan on June 27 to pay homage to the former Sikh ruler of united Punjab, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, on his death anniversary. The two groups will stay in Pakistan for ten days each, crossing over into the country from the Wagah border between Pakistan and India.
Many Sikhs see Pakistan as the place where their religion began: Sikhism’s founder, Guru Nanak, was born in 1469 in a small village near Lahore.
“Two groups of Sikh pilgrims are visiting Pakistan for 10 days each between June 14 and July 6,” said Ami Hashmi, the spokesman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board which is responsible for the maintenance of properties, including religious buildings and sites, abandoned by people who left for India during the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.
“The first batch will arrive on June 14 for Jor Mela while the second will be reaching on June 27 for the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh,” Hashmi added. “ETPB has completed all arrangements for the 500 Sikh pilgrims.”
He said the Interior Ministry of Pakistan had directed the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi to issue 10-day visas to the pilgrims.
This March, arch-rivals India and Pakistan agreed to go forward with the Kartarpur Corridor, a new border crossing and route for Sikh pilgrims to visit a holy temple in Pakistan.
The Sikh minority community in India’s northern state of Punjab and elsewhere has long sought easier access to the temple in Kartarpur, a village just over the border in Muslim-majority Pakistan. But to get to Kartarpur, travelers must first secure hard-to-get visas, travel to Lahore or some other major Pakistani city and then drive to the village, which is just 4 km (2-1/2 miles) distant from the Indian border. Pakistan has earmarked Rs.1,000 million for the corridor in its budget for fiscal year to June 2020.
In April, a large group of Sikh pilgrims from India performed ritual baths at a famous temple in northwestern Pakistan after arriving in the country to celebrate the harvest festival of Vaisakhi that marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year.
The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi had announced that it had issued around 2,200 visas to Indian Sikhs wanting to travel to Pakistan to participate in the annual Vaisakhi celebrations from April 12 to 21. Around 3,000 Sikhs in total had arrived for the festival from around the world, ETPB’s Hasmi said, 1,896 of them from India.


Bombing kills 2 Pakistani soldiers near Afghan border

Updated 20 September 2019
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Bombing kills 2 Pakistani soldiers near Afghan border

  • Soldiers were overseeing border fence work
  • Pakistani troops are currently building fences on Pak-Afghan border to check militant movement

PESHAWAR: Pakistan's military says a roadside bomb has killed two soldiers, when it struck an army vehicle in the country's northwest near the Afghan border.
The military said in a statement that the two soldiers were overseeing border fence work. It said the device was planted by militants coming Afghanistan's side of the border, without elaborating.
No group immediately claimed responsibility.
Pakistani troops are currently building border fences to check militant movement along the 2,400 kilometer-long Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier and often come under such attacks. The Taliban and other insurgents have used the area until recently for cross border attacks.
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.