Islamabad: To mark the upcoming 550th birth anniversary of the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak, Pakistan issued commemorative 50 rupees coins on Wednesday.

The Nankana Sahib Gurdwara, a site sacred to Sikhs, is inscribed on one side of the coins with the words ‘550th birthday celebrations’ and ‘Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’ embossed on the edges. The other side illustrates Pakistan’s emblem, a crescent and a star, with ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ etched in Urdu. According to officials, the 50 rupees coin will be available to pilgrims at the Kartarpur Sahib, along with postal stamp worth Rs8.

The goodwill gesture is part of the initiatives by Pakistan to promote interfaith harmony ahead of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak and the opening of Kartarpur Corridor. Prime Minister Imran Khan will formally inaugurate the corridor on November 9, which would allow Sikh pilgrims from India visa-free travel to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib – one of Sikhism’s holiest pilgrimage sites. Pakistan and India signed the much-awaited Kartarpur agreement last week in a rare act of cooperation between the two sides in these tense times. The peace corridor will allow around 5,000 Sikh pilgrims to visit the shrine every day.

This week, Pakistan’s premier laid the foundation stone for a university in Nankana Sahib district, named after Guru Nanak. “Setting up of an educational institution is the best way to pay homage to Baba Guru Nanak because education is the key to nations’ success,” Imran Khan said in his speech.

The Sikh community around the world welcomed the initiative and expressed its appreciation for Pakistan and PM Imran Khan on social media. “This kindness of yours speaks a lot about your vision for Pakistan and world,” wrote Jeevanjot Brar while thanking the premier. “Thanks and respect from the bottom of our hearts,” read another comment by Jas Singh. Many were interested in buying the coin to add to their collection and insisted that Pakistan government to make it available online.

Pakistan is home to some of the holiest Sikh sites and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is believed to have been built on the site in Pakistan’s Narowal district where Guru Nanak breathed his last in the 16th century. The opening of religious passage would connect Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district and actualise decades-old wish of the Sikh community.