The Pakistani High Commission in Delhi has issued 3,316 visas to allow Sikh pilgrims to attend Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary celebrations in Nankana Sahib in Pakistan’s Punjab, Mint reported. While thousands of devotees attend the celebrations every year, the issuance of documents gains significance in light of the increased hostilities between India and Pakistan. The Pakistani High Commissions counsellor Manzoor Ali Memon said the move was aimed at improving “people-to-people contacts and promoting religious tourism.

Guru Nanak was born on 15 April, 1469, at a place called Rai Bhoi Ki Talva (present-day Nankana Sahib). Every year thousands of devotees travel across the International Border to pay homage to the founder of Sikhism between November 12 and 21. Memon said the number of visas issued exceeded the recommended amount under the 1974 bilateral protocol.

On Thursday, Pakistani officials said five Indian High Commission staffers had left the country after Islamabad declared them spies. Relations between India and Pakistan have worsened since the militant attack on the Indian Army’s camp in Kashmir’s Uri sector on September 18. Also, incidents of ceasefire violations and infiltration have increased since the Indian Army said it conducted surgical strikes along the Line of Control, targeting terror launchpads in Pakistan. Incidents of cross-border firing have increased since the surgical strikes. India has also attempted to diplomatically isolate Pakistan at international fora.