LAHORE   -  Punjab Governor Punjab Ch Muhammad Sarwar has supported the proposal by Sikh community leaders binding Indian Sikh pilgrims to carry dollars with them instead of Indian rupee.

Concerned federal departments will take a final decision in this regard after analyzing all aspects and implications.

The government hopes to fetch $3 billion revenue every year by promoting religious tourism.

This includes revenue coming from non-Indian Sikhs coming from the European countries, US and Canada.

In a related development, the federal government has decided to issue visas to 10,000 Indians intending to come to Pakistan to participate in 550th birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak. This is undoubtedly a landmark decision taken for the first time in history.

“In past, only 3,000 visas were issued to Sikh pilgrims but we have decided to give 10,000 visas. All state institutions are making unanimous strategy to turn this proposal into reality,” Punjab Governor Ch Sarwar told reporters during his visit to Nankana Sahab.

Ch Sarwar left for Nankana from Lahore on Friday morning to review the arrangements being made to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru of Sikh religion.

It was during this visit that Sikh leaders floated the suggestion that it should be made binding on the Sikh pilgrims from India to carry dollars instead of Indian rupee. The proposed step will be beneficial for Pakistan economy.

Governor said that a final decision will be taken by Adviser on Finance, Hafeez Sheikh after evolving consensus of all concerned departments.

Sarwar in his media talk also disclosed that a record number of one million non-Indian Sikh pilgrims from rest of the world will also be issued visas to enable them visit their religious places in Pakistan.

The 550th birth celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak Dev will start in November this year.

The government is confident that Pakistan side of Kartarpur corridor will be completed before November deadline set for this project.

We will provide fool proof security to all Sikh pilgrims. Punjab government has also set up a Committee headed by Lahore Commissioner to look after Sikh pilgrims, the Governor said.

Sarwar also informed reporters that all projects in Nankana Sahab including renovation of Railway Station will be completed before November this year. The historic residence of Sardar Bhagat Singh will also be renovated, he added.

Governor Sarwar also visited Gurdwara Janamsathan. DC Raja Mansoor, DPO Naveed, PTI leader Moon Khan, Additional Secretary Evacuee Property Trust Board Imran Gondal, Pardhan Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Bandhak Committee Sardar Tara Singh, MPA Mahendar Pal Singh and Gopal Singh Chawla accompanied him.

Governor assured that irrespective of how much work has been done on the Indian side, Pakistan will complete all the work on its side of the Kartarpur corridor within time. “And, if India lags behind Pakistan, we will tell the world about its stubbornness shown on this project of high importance”, he stated.

Meanwhile, as many as 1,000 Indian Sikh pilgrims are set to arrive at the Wahga Railway Station by a special train on June 27 to observe the 180th death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.

Previously, India had refused to allow this much number of Sikh pilgrims to enter Pakistan. A train supposed to carry them returned empty from India couple of weeks back.

Officials of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (BTPB) and Sikh leaders will receive them at the Railway station.

The official sources said that a ceremony to mark the anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh would be held at Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore on June 29.

Chairman ETPB Dr Amer Ahmad has issued instructions to complete arrangements, including security, accommodation, journey and medical facilities, for the visiting Sikh yatrees.

The Deputy Secretary Shrines visited Gurdwara Dera Sahib and Janum Asthan Nankana Sahib on Friday to review the arrangements.

Also, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) Pardhan Sardar Tara Singh and other members have expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made by the ETPB.