Lahore: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday (September 3) said that Kartarpur is the "Madina" and Nankana Sahib is the "Makkah" of the Sikh community and assured that his government would issue multiple and on-arrival visas to Sikh pilgrims coming from India and other countries.

According to reports, Khan said the government would provide Sikh pilgrims maximum possible facilities during their pilgrimage to the holy sites in Pakistan.

Addressing the International Sikh Convention at the Governor House in Lahore on Monday, the Prime Minister said, "I assure that you will be issued multiple visas...This is our responsibility. We will give you visas at the airport." 

Pakistan had decided to complete the process of issuance of visas to Sikh pilgrims by September 30 to facilitate their participation at the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in Nankana Sahib on November 12. The visa process began on September 1. 

"Kartarpur is your Madina and Nankana Sahib is your Makkah. We (Muslims) can't even imagine someone keeping us away from Makkah or Madina. This is a new visa regime, so there may be some obstacles initially, but we will facilitate you fully," Imran Khan said to a media channel.

The convention was attended by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, federal and provincial cabinet members, and Sikh pilgrims from the UK, the US, Canada, Europe and other countries.

The Kartarpur corridor would connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.

Kartarpur will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947.

Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, while India would construct the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border.

Pakistan has repeatedly said that the opening of the corridor will not be hit by the current tension with India that has escalated after the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status.