DUBAI: Pakistan’s information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Saturday his country would offer special visas and hotel packages to Sikh pilgrims in the United Arab Emirates and other countries who were eager to visit Kartarpur to mark the birth anniversary of the founder of their faith.
Located in Pakistan’s Punjab province, Kartarpur is said to have been established in the 16th century by Guru Nanak who laid the foundations of Sikhism.
The Pakistan government opened a visa-free border crossing and corridor connecting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, where Nanak was buried, to the border with India to allow Sikh devotees from the neighboring country to visit the place without securing travel permits.
“For the Sikh community here,” Hussain said during a media talk in Dubai, “I especially want to say that we will hold a special three-day festival this year on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. We will arrange three-day visas for our Sikh brothers here who wish to come to Pakistan and felicitate them. Hotels are also giving special packages.”
He added Pakistan planned to commemorate the event starting November 18.
“A special film focusing on Baba Nanak’s travels will also be released next month,” he said.
Hussain also applauded overseas Pakistanis for making substantial contribution to their country’s economy, saying they had sent highest remittances to Pakistan in history during the last fiscal year.
“If the economy is surviving at this point, it is because of the contribution of overseas Pakistanis,” he said.
The information minister continued the government had made it a priority to address the issues of Pakistanis living abroad, adding that nearly 20,000 prisoners involved in petty crimes in the Gulf region had been brought back to their country.
He maintained the current administration in Islamabad was also keen to install electronic voting system for overseas Pakistanis ahead of the next elections.
“We want our nationals living abroad to cast their votes as well,” he added.
Asked about the T20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan on Sunday, Hussain said he would be watching the game in the stadium.
He noted that cricket was one sport that brought together Pakistanis “from Lahore to Gwadar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Karachi.”
“We are all praying and hope that Pakistan will win tomorrow,” he added.
The information minister is also scheduled to visit the Pakistan Pavilion at the Dubai expo this week.