Pakistan issues visas to Indian pilgrims to visit Katas Raj temple

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has issued visas to a group of 96 Hindu pilgrims for visiting the Katas Raj temples, an ancient temple complex in the Chakwal district of Punjab, between December 20 and 25.

Each year, a large number of Sikh and Hindu pilgrims from India visit Pakistan to observe various religious festivals or occasions. In addition, a large number of Indian Hindus are issued visas by Islamabad on regular basis to visit their families and friends in Pakistan.

The latest development involving the 900-year-old temples, one of the holiest sites in South Asia for Hindus, comes at a time when relations with India are at a low ebb and show few signs of improving.

The issuance of visas is in line with Pakistan’s efforts for facilitating visits to religious shrines, the mission said.

Aftab Hasan Khan, the chargé d’affaires at the high commission, wished the pilgrims a spiritually rewarding pilgrimage and underlined that Pakistan remains committed to preserving sacred religious sites and providing all possible assistance to the visiting pilgrims of all faiths.

The visit of the pilgrims to the complex is covered under the Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines 1974, a bilateral agreement between Pakistan and India facilitating the two nations to visit religious shrines in both countries.

As of November 2018, 15 locations in Pakistan and five in India are covered under this protocol.

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