Religious tourism in Pakistan

According to the media, about 3,000 Sikh yatrees reached Pakistan from India through the Wahga border crossing on Sunday to attend the 553rd birthday of Baba Guru Nanak. The annual celebration in connection with the 553rd birthday anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Baba Guru Nanak is scheduled to be held during 6-8 November in Nankana Sab, and thousands of Sikhs from Canada, the UK, the USA, and other countries had arrived Pakistan to attend this sacred religious rituals.

Pakistan is a custodian of some of the most sacred Shrines and religious heritages of Sikh, Buddhist, and Hindu religions and proudly offers a great opportunity for religious tourism to common tourists and religious devotees from across the world, especially India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan.

The country hosts important religious sites of multiple faiths including the Buddhist heritage of the Gandhara civilization, Data Darbar, Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander, Nankana Sahib (the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak), Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartar Pur, Gurdwara Panja Sahib Hassan Abdal, Qila Katas, and Hinglai Mata Temple, etc. Thousands of Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Hindus from within the country and across the world visit these sacred places every year.

Today, religious tourism is an important factor in the global economy, that generates a global flow of wealth through travel, boarding, and logging of pilgrimage trips, visits to religious sites, participation in religious events, and missionary tours in certain parts of the world. Presently, Makkah and Madina, Jerulesum, Vatican, Thailand, Tibet, Kirtarpur and Nankana Sahib, Varanasi, and Bodh Gaya are the most visited religious sites in the world.

Religious tourism and Religious diplomacy are the two important elements that provide common ground, build bridges and promote tolerance and harmony among different segments of society. This universal bond removes walls of hate and strangeness and promotes inclusiveness and pluralism, generates economic activities, and brings economic prosperity to the world. The broader Indo-subcontinent, Central Asia, the Middle East, and far East Asian regions are closely tightened in multiple linkages of religion, culture, and common civilization, while a treasure of heritages is spread over across the multiple nations which provide great opportunities to the governments to ease travel restrictions, strengthen bonds and facilitate tourism. However, regional disputes and political rivalries are big hurdles in realizing the dream of a peaceful, well-connected, and prosperous Asia.

Pakistan has unlimited prospects for religious tourism in the country. However, there is an urgent need for the development of the infrastructure, provision of essential facilities, foolproof security, and a tourism-friendly environment in the country, so tourists across the globe can visit Pakistan in a peaceful and secure environment.