Nation special report
LAHORE: Taking advantage of presence Sikh
pilgrims, Pakistan Government has urged members of the Sikh community around
the world to follow in the footsteps of the founder of Sikhism and raise their
voice for the rights of the people of Kashmir.
At the first-ever International Sikh Convention held at Governor House, Lahore, Punjab, on Saturday, Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar and other high-profile government functionaries stressed the importance of peace in the region and asked the audience to fight for the rights of the Kashmiri people who had been “besieged by Indian security forces.”
“Kashmiris’ struggle for independent and right
of self determination as important and sacred as yours and both the communities
should work together to achieve your goals”, the speakers said.
The convention was part of a series of events to mark the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikh religion, Guru Nanak, in November this year. It was attended by nearly a hundred members of the Sikh community from different parts of the world, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and other countries.
“We will implement Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision and do our best to build Kartarpur corridor on time,” Governor Sarwar said in his address to the opening ceremony.
He added that Sikhs all over the world should raise their voice for the rights of Kashmiri people since Sikhism taught them to protect the weak and fight for the oppressed.“India is violating international law, ethics and the UN charter by depriving the people of Kashmir of their basic rights. Kashmiri liberation is written on the wall and India cannot do much about it,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs Naeemul Haque urged the Sikh community to invest in Pakistan since the country was providing a business-friendly environment to foreigners. He also told the audience that the government was contemplating multiple-entry visas for Sikh pilgrims.
“Members of the Sikh community around the world should know that Pakistan is their home. They should also invest here since we will provide all necessary facilities to them,” he said.
PM Special Assistance for Information Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, told the gathering that the “oppressed” Kashmiri people viewed Sikhs as their strength since “the followers of Guru Nanak were taught to become the voice of the voiceless.”
She urged the Sikhs and Muslims communities to work together in unison to defeat extremism and intolerance in the world as the Sikh religion had many ideals in common with Islam. Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, was influenced by Islam’s philosophy of ”Tauheed” (Oneness of God), she added.
The Convention was held from August 31 to Sept 2 on the initiative of Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar to invite suggestions regarding preparations for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of the Sikhism founder Baba Guru Nanak Dev in November this year.
Firdous termed Kartarpur Corridor a historic project, saying it would prove to be a long-lasting bond between Pakistan and Sikh community. She said the Prime Minister’s decision to build Kartarpur Corridor was indicative of his enlightened vision regarding minorities” rights and religious freedom in Pakistan.
Baba Guru Nanak Railway Station
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has announced to change the name of Nankana Sahib Railway Station with Baba Guru Nanak Railway Station on the name of Sikh founder leader. The minister made this announcement during his visit to Nankana Sahib. He also attended a dinner hosted for Sikh pilgrims.
Kartarpur Corridor talks
India and Pakistan on Friday held talks over the Kartarpur corridor being built in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province. This was one of the key dialogues amid rising tensions between the two countries after the abrogation of Article 370 by India creating two union territories out of India-controlled Kashmir.
The corridor on the Pakistan side is being built in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province. It will be constructed from the Indian border to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib, a historic shrine of the Sikh community located nearly four km from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of India’s state of Punjab.
A passenger terminal structure is under construction at Dera Baba Nanak. It will have bus and car parking facilities, food courts and immigration counters to facilitate the pilgrims. The construction company has been given a deadline to complete the work by October 31. Pakistan has assured that the construction work on its site will be completed by November.