Pak for religious tourism pkgs for Sikhs, Hindus

Gurdwara Choa Sahib in Pakistan was opened in August
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The Pakistan government has for the first time decided to introduce religious tourism packages to attract Sikh and Hindu devotees from across the world to visit the country for offering prayers and performing religious rituals at its historical shrines.

While talking to TOI over phone from Islamabad on Wednesday, chairman of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Aamer Ahmad said the board had proposed this plan to give a fillip to religious tourism.

“The packages can be for three days or five days. We are working on the modalities and would soon start registration of tour operators,” he said, adding that pilgrims from across the world including India could avail these packages in addition to the existing movement of Hindu and Sikh groups from India.

Pak’s ETBP to open Gurdwara Khara Sahib in Eminabad

The ETPB chairman said the proposal had been hailed by Sayed Zulfiqar Abbas Bhukhari, special assistant to the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had chaired a meeting of ministry of tourism at Islamabad on Wednesday. ETPB, which looks after the religious affairs of Sikhs and Hindus, has also decided to open Gurdwara Khara Sahib Eminabad and given in-principle nod to develop and renovate Gurdwara Choa Sahib, which was opened in the recent past. The ETPB is mulling shifting the stormwater drain passing under the Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hassan Abdal.

A major renovation programme has also been chalked out for the 1,000 years old Shivala Teja Singh in Sialkot district of Pakistan’s Punjab. The historical Shivala, which was closed since Partition, was thrown open in July 2019 for the Hindus to offer prayers and perform religious services after sprucing it up.

He said the government had also decided to repair the main road from Lahore to Kartapur Sahib, which gets damaged during the rainy season.

Apart from listing these development plans, the ETPB chairman said they had released a programme for observing the ‘jyoti jot divas’ of Sikhs’ first master Guru Nanak Dev at Kartarpur Sahib. The ‘akhand path’ would begin on September 20 and the ‘bhog’ would be performed on September 22, he added.