Boosting Sikh Tourism | Soft Visa Policy is Pre Requisite; Ghafoor

NANKANA: Managing Director, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, Chaudhary Abdul Ghafoor Khan met Sikh pilgrims, came from all over the world to participate in Nankana Sahib’s 549th birthday celebrations. The meeting discussed in detail the issues related to incoming Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan and the facilities available to them. GC University professor Kailyan Singh welcomed Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor Khan on arrival at Nankana.

In the meeting, member of the assembly Dr. Shazra Rai Pranab Ali, MPA Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora, from England Sardar Jaga Singh, and Sardar Avatar Singh  were also present. The Sikhs delegation told Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor that they face a lot of difficulty in visa acquisition from India and other countries, Canada, Europe, Thailand etc. to come to Pakistan, and due to delay in visa process, thousands of Sikh pilgrims are missing their opportunity to visit Pakistan.

Apart from this, there is a little shortage of accommodation facilities for pilgrims in Pakistan, but there is no feeling of strangers and Pakistani people are very hospitable. We are not only in love religiously but also ethically from Pakistan. Sikh pilgrims from various countries including Canada requested the Pakistani government to soften visa policy.

Talking to the delegation, MD said that many Sikhs, Buddhist sites and Hindu sacred places spread across Pakistan. All communities want to pay their religious rituals on their birthplace and other sacred places. But due to negative propaganda of international media in general and Indian media in particular, they are afraid to visit Pakistan. We need support of global tourism community to end this widespread propaganda. Pakistan is a fully secure and tourist friendly country where people from every religion can perform their religious rituals without fear. Government is committed to provide security to them.

The MD added that Pakistan Tourism Development is planning to establish appropriate accommodation facilities at the sacred places, which will be initiated soon. We are willing to soften the visa policy through the Foreign Ministry so that more and more Sikhs should be provided better facilities next year on Baba Guru Nanak’s birthday. With eased Visa policy and facilitating religious tourism in Pakistan by comfortable procedure can earn millions of dollars for Pakistan every year.

MD told that to promote tourism in the country and to facilitate better facilities to tourists, we are working on a comprehensive strategy for which a think tank has been set up, including stakeholders, tour operators and representatives of provincial tourism organization. The session is being held on November 15 in which the members will present their recommendations so that a comprehensive strategy can be developed.

Prof. Kaliyan Singh and others thanked MD for visiting Nankana on the occasion and heard the problems faced by Sikh community. He said that we hope the problems of tourists and pilgrims in Pakistan will be resolved by the leadership of Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor. The good steps taken by him will generate good results of Pakistan’s tourism in the coming times.

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