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Pakistan to tighten security ahead of Sikh pilgrims visit

Last Updated: Friday, October 23, 2009 - 16:55

Lahore: Pakistani authorities are yet to receive word from their Indian counterparts on whether Sikh pilgrims will join festivities marking Guru Nanak`s birth anniversary though extensive security arrangements have been made for their visit in the wake of a wave of deadly terrorist attacks across the country.
Authorities plan to deploy paramilitary Pakistan Rangers for the security of the pilgrims expected to arrive from around the world next week but fear that the terror attacks, including three near-simultaneous strikes on security facilities in Lahore, could lead to many people cancelling their plans to visit the country.

"We received a list of 4,000 Sikhs (from the Indian government) prior to the Lahore attacks, but after that the Indian side has not confirmed how many Sikhs are coming here via the Wagah border to observe Guru Nanak`s birth anniversary," Fraz Abbas, deputy director (shrines) of the Evacuee Trust Property Board, said.

"To ensure foolproof security for the visiting Sikhs, we have engaged the Pakistan Rangers and police," he said.

Abbas acknowledged that it "would not be easy" for foreigners to make plans to visit Pakistan after the spate of terror attacks.

The ETPB is responsible for maintaining shrines of minority communities and organising visits by foreign pilgrims.

The main celebrations marking Guru Nanak`s birth anniversary will be held at Nankana Sahib, his birthplace located 80 km from Lahore.

In April, only 375 Indian Sikhs travelled to Pakistan to participate in the Baisakhi festival. This was in marked contrast to the 4,000 Sikhs who made the trip last year.

Similarly, about 300 Sikhs came to Pakistan this month to attend the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Ramdas but cut short their visit after an attack on the Army`s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, October 23, 2009 - 16:55
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