“The government of India is of the view that it is not advisable for the Indian pilgrims to visit Pakistan in the prevailing situation when frequent terrorist attacks are taking place in Punjab province of Pakistan, where all gurudwaras are situated,” said a statement issued by the home ministry.
“Accordingly, the government advises all Indian citizens to avoid undertaking any visit to Pakistan for this purpose, till the security situation in Pakistan improves.”
“We understand that the government issued the travel advisory in view of the bad situation in Pakistan. Anything can happen there. If the government feels that it (Pakistan) is unsafe, it should ban all travel to that country,” (Avtar Singh) Makkar (SGPC President) said.
“We have applied for permission for our jatha (group) to go there. If the clearance is given, it becomes the responsibility of the Indian government to talk to Pakistan to ensure security of the Sikh pilgrims,” he added. The SGPC jatha for the Nov 2 event could have 1,500-2,000 devotees.
“The (travel) advisory alone does not help. If we (SGPC) don’t send pilgrims, and pilgrims decide to go in smaller groups, it will be embarrassing for us,” Makkar added.
A similar group of 200 pilgrims had to cut it’s visit short while they were on a visit to Pakistan earlier this month when the recent spate of violence and attacks broke out. While the attacks and military action continues in Pakistan, pilgrims await the government decision on the SGPC application.