8,000 Sikhs arrive in Pak



8,000 Sikhs arrive in Pak Islamabad: About 8,000 Sikh pilgrims from various countries, including India, Afghanistan and Britain, have arrived in Pakistan to join celebrations marking the 543rd birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

The three-day celebrations began at Nanaka Sahib, the birthplace of the founder of the Sikh religion, yesterday.

The three-day celebrations began at Nanaka Sahib, the birthplace of the founder of the Sikh religion, yesterday.

Among the 'yatris' or pilgrims are over 3,000 Sikhs from India who travelled across the border in three special trains. The pilgrims will visit Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Panja Sahib at Hasanaadal, Dera Sahib and other holy sites.

The administration and law enforcement agencies have put in place tight security arrangements to prevent any untoward incidents during the celebrations.

Additional Secretary (Shrines) Zahid Hussain Bokhari welcomed the Indian Sikhs who crossed over by train at the Wagah border.

The government has opened special outlets of money changers and the National Bank of Pakistan at the border to facilitate the pilgrims.

Authorities also set up a dispensary, arrangements for food and additional visa counters for speedy clearance of the pilgrims.

Sikh leaders Malkar Singh and Jaspal Singh told the media that they were pleased to be in the land of their spiritual leader.

They expressed satisfaction at the arrangements made by the Pakistan government for the yatris.

They were thankful to the government and people of Pakistan for the hospitality accorded to them.

Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee member Sardar Sham Singh urged the governments of Pakistan and India to simplify the visa procedures for Sikh pilgrims.

The Indian Sikh pilgrims are expected to return by November 17.

PTI