Pakistan has the Mecca and Medina of the Sikhs and the country is opening up those sites for the minority community, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said.
Mr Khan in November last year laid the foundation stone for the corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur – the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev – to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district to facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims.
The Pakistan prime minister was in the UAE on a day-long trip to take part in the 7th edition of the World Government Summit on the invitation of Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.
“We have the Mecca and Medina of the Sikhs… and we are just opening up those sites for Sikhs,” Mr Khan said Sunday.
Mecca and Medina are the two holiest sites in Islam.
“We have opened our visa regime. For the first time in Pakistan, we have 70 countries from where people can come and get visas at the airport,” the prime minister said.
Mr Khan said Pakistan has the best tourist potential even though at the moment it hardly has any tourism.
“Half the world”s highest peaks are in Pakistan,” he said, adding that the country has 1,000 kilometers of coastline.
Mr Khan also said that Pakistan has the oldest historical monuments, probably as old as anywhere in the world. “We have Indus Valley Civilisation, which is 5,000 years old. We have Peshawar, the oldest living city in the world, 2,500 years old. Lahore and Multan are ancient cities.
“We have the Gandhara civilisation, which was the cradle of Buddhist civilisation, in the north of Islamabad. The biggest sleeping Buddha, 40 feet, is in Haripur. We have some of the greatest and highest number of Sufi shrines all over Pakistan,” he said.
Mr Khan said they are opening up the country for tourism.
Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. It was established by the Sikh Guru in 1522. The first Gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was built here, where Guru Nanak is said to have died.
The Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, is expected to be completed soon.
Thousands of Sikh devotees from India visit Pakistan every year to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
India had proposed the corridor to Pakistan around 20 years back.