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Pakistan ready to promote religious tourism, trade with India

PTI MNA Dr. Ramesh Kumar, Punjab govt spokesperson Hasaan Khawar expect positive attitude from neighbouring country

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Member of National Assembly Dr. Ramesh Kumar and Punjab government spokesperson Hassaan Khawar have said that Pakistan was ready to promote trade and religious tourism with India, provided that the neighbouring country responded positively to the government’s goodwill gesture.

While talking to journalists in Lahore on Tuesday, Dr. Kumar and Hasaan Khawar made the announcement as a group of Indian Hindu pilgrims left the country through Wagah border.

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Over 215 yatris from different countries, including 159 from India visited Pakistan to perform religious rituals at Samadhi of Shri Pram Hans Maharaj at Teri in Kark (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).

During the four-day stay, they also visited other sacred places and also met Supreme Court Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.

A group of 150 Pakistani pilgrims is also leaving for India on January 20 to visit shrines of Khawaja Muin al-Din Chishti and Khawaja Nizamuddin Auliya in Ajmer, Rajasthan, and New Delhi.

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Dr. Kumar, who also heads Pakistan Hindu Council, will lead the delegation and announced that leading businessmen from different chambers of commerce would also be part of the visitors.

He said, “We expect India that will reflect the same hospitality for Pakistani pilgrims as was provided to our Indian brothers and sisters.”

He said it was the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to promote religious tourism and establish good relations with India.

Both the countries, he said, shared the same culture and language and it was in the benefit of India and Pakistan to promote peace and harmony and live like good neighbours.

Hundreds of Sikhs and Hindus from India visited Pakistan in last couple of months to perform religious rituals in the country which is home to sacred places of both the religions. Visitors included Indian Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, his cabinet team and famed cricketer-turned-politician, Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Pakistan and India agreed to open Kartarpur Corridor near Narowal border on the eve of Guru Nanak Devji’s 552nd birth anniversary in November. The visa-free corridor was inaugurated in November 2019 but it was shut down due to fear of COVID-19 spread in March, 2020.

Hasaan Khawar said that the Punjab government warmly welcomed every pilgrim at Kartarpur and was keen to see more tourism. He said that it was the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to make the province a hub of tourism.

“We hope India will act reciprocally. We want to live peacefully with neighbours,” Khawar stated.

The convoy of Hindu yatris arrived in Pakistan on Friday through Wagah Border, before leaving for Peshawar by air on the same day. They were transported from Peshawar to Teri Samadhi in district Karak amid tight security. The visitors expressed warm comments about the hospitality by the government and people of Pakistan.

“I warmly welcome Hindu pilgrims to Pakistan. Pakistan respects minorities and is a harbinger of peace. The services rendered by minorities in the country’s progress are commendable. Government is committed to protect and preserve religious sites of other faiths and facilitate foreign visitors,” Asad Qaiser tweeted after meeting with yatris on Monday.

“Pakistan is safe for tourism. People of Pakistan give us great respect and love. We are filled with emotions due to the way we were treated here. We felt it was like home during our stay in Pakistan,” visitors told journalists in Lahore before leaving for India.


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