Thousands of Sikh pilgrims from India arrived in Lahore through Wagha border to participate in the 548 birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, at his birthplace in Nankana Sahib.
Ever year Sikh yatrees come to Pakistan in great numbers from all over the world to participate in their religious festivals. Their presence in Pakistan refreshes the fact that Pakistan is a cultural home for many communities. It is good omen that officials of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) were present at the Wagha Railway Station to welcome the Sikh guests. The Pakistan government has issued over 3300 visas to Indian Sikh yatrees. Though ETPB makes satisfactory arrangements for security food and transportation of the Sikh pilgrims, but there is still huge scope to increase the religious tourism in the country. If government further improves infrastructure, facilities of transportation, hotels, medical facilities and most of all security of visiting people, religious tourists will come to Pakistan in great numbers. If few percent of Sikh community living all over the world visit Pakistan, it would be in millions. Sikh consider land of Pakistan very sacred, it is pertinent to write here that many visiting Sikh yatrees while describing their religious attachment with this land, termed it as sacred for them as cities of Mecca and Medina for Muslims. Considering strong bond of Sikh community with this land, government needs to give it priority to attract as many visitors as possible.
Apart from strengthening economy, religious tourism also promotes soft image of the country. Such visits strengthen religious connections with other countries and also help in protecting historic and cultural heritage. At a time when we are struggling to maintain peace in our country, arrival of international pilgrims can change perception of Pakistan being a dangerous country to visit. Such celebrations also strengthen people to people contact.
It is pleasing that every year pilgrimage happens peacefully and any infamous incident has not occurred. We need to give warm welcome to people visiting Pakistan to attend their religious celebrations in such a way that they don’t feel they have come in a strange place. Daily Patriot hopes that yatra of Sikh pilgrims conclude without any security risks and they go back to their countries with pleasant memories of Pakistan.
The potential for religious tourism is huge in Pakistan but govt needs to improve facilities to attract visitors.