Nankana Sahib the birthplace of first Sikh Guru Guru Nanak Dev , has been given status of ‘holy city’. The term for Pakistan means more attention to preservation and restoration of the shrine. Nankana Sahib of Pakistan is one of the most revered pilgrimage destinations for Sikhs around the world.
The holy city announcement was made by interior minister Rehman Malik at a dinner hosted recently for a delegation of Indian lawyers, comprising bar representatives who were in Pakistan to attend an international conference of lawyers, at a hotel in Pakistan.
While announcing the decision, Malik said the move to make Nankana Sahib a holy city was a “goodwill gesture” towards Indian Sikhs as well as members of the community settled in other parts of the world.
The decision came in the wake of a demand by the Sikh community to accord the historical city, which houses a shrine in Guru Nanak Dev’s memory, a holy status.
This was apart from the other initiatives the interior minister announced to make the relationship between the two countries stronger.
Malik said Indians visiting Pakistan could travel to Nankana Sahib irrespective of the kind of visa they had been granted. Indian tourists with a visa to visit a particular city could nonetheless travel to Nankana Sahib, without seeking a separate visa.
Senior lawyer Rakesh Shahi, on his return from the conference, said the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Parveen Parakh, had also demanded that the Pakistan government grant Indian lawyers a one-year visa.
Malik went a step ahead and said lawyers from this side of the border would be entitled to a five-year visa once they submitted their documents duly verified by the bar associations of their respective states.
He added that all bar members from India could also get a one-year multiple visa for Pakistan, without having to register with police stations in the country. He said pilgrims headed for Nankana Sahib would be exempted from police registration in the future.
Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association president Dalbir Singh Pheruman has urged the Pakistan government to mull the possibility of an open policy, wherein the conditions for the grant of visa could be done away with for some cities, to ease the travel of lawyers.
He said a similar initiative could be taken by the Indian government, emphasizing that lawyers from both the countries could work together to strengthen bilateral relations.
Participants of the lawyers’ conference in Pakistan, however, did state that while talking about the burning issues that the two neighbors needed to sort out for a better relationship, Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association president Yasin Azad skipped the mention of terrorism and Kashmir.