The World Bank is interested in helping Pakistan to promote religious tourism in the country as the five most important Sikh pilgrimage sites are located in the country’s Punjab province.
The bank reached the decision after an assessment report by the bank, which mentions that Pakistan allows a total of 7,500 Sikh visitors with Indian passports to visit their holy places in Pakistan each year.
But due to stringent background checks and straining visa application process, this quota is difficult to fill.
Also, Sikhs with non-Indian passports face a relatively easier process but there is a lack of coordination among public agencies involved in the process that causes inconvenience to the pilgrims.
The details of the project are scheduled to be discussed next month’ when a delegation from the World Bank visits Islamabad and Lahore.
The proposed project is estimated to be around 50 million dollars and has already project had generated much interest in the federal and Punjab governments and the task team had received positive feedback from the private sector and civil society organisations, official sources told Dawn.
The Punjab chief minister has appointed a committee to oversee promotion of cultural and heritage tourism in the state. District coordination officers (DCOs) will take the responsibility of project directors for the sites.
A separate advisory council comprising of distinguished professionals has also been established to look after the overall policy and project implementation. Gurdwara Rori Sahib in Eminabad, Gurdwara Bal Lila Sahib and Gurdwara Tambu Sahib in Nankana Sahib, and Gurdwara Dera Sahib are likely to be identified as priority sites.