“Sikh community living across the world lauds Prime Minister Imran Khan for his initiative of opening Kartarpur Corridor,   paving the  way for Indian pilgrims to visit Baba Guru Nanak Gurdwara in district Narowal near Indian border”. This was stated by Provincial Parliamentary Secretary Punjab Sardar Mahendar Paal Singh while talking to newsmen here at the residence of Chairman Public Accounts Committee Syed Yawar Bokhari. He was accompanied by Member Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee and Chairman Baba Gurunanak Welfare Society Sardar Bishan Singh and Sardar Santok Singh.

Mr Singh added that Kartarpur Corridor- which was the longstanding desire of the community globally for the last seventy years, especially from India particularly in view of 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak which would be observed on 6th November this year. Talking about government recent initiatives regarding promotion of religious tourism especially visa facilitation, online visas and visas on arrival, Mr Singh  said that this initiative would benefit tens of thousands of Sikh pilgrims every year and promote interfaith harmony. He also lauded the government decision to allow double entry visa facility to 10,000 Sikh pilgrims on the occasion of 550th birthday of Baba Guru Nanak Jee.

He said that the PTI government has earmarked Rs1, 000 million for the development of Kartarpur in the Federal Budget 2019-20.  Mr  Singh hoped that the word “minority” will be abolished by this government as Imran Khan was giving great respect, honor and due  status to Sikhs. Sardar Mahendar said that he and his community wanted to serve Pakistan to make it a developed and prosperous country. He added that previous governments many a times promised to establish Gurunanak University and a world class hotel in Hassanabdal but never fulfilled this promise and hoped that this government will materialize these promises made by previous regimes.  Chairman Baba Gurunanak Welfare Society Sardar Bishan Singh speaking to newsmen on this occasion  condemned Indian government anti religion step to not  allowing 130 Indian Sikh pilgrims, including women, children, and elderly, to visit Pakistan  to observe the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh guru.

He was of the view that bilateral issues should not be allowed to come in the way of religion. “  Sikh pilgrims from India visit Pakistan for religious festivals at least four times during the year under the framework of the India-Pakistan Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines 1974 but denial to visit Pakistan to participate in  religious rituals despite having valid visas is not understood”. Mr Singh said. He added that “once again, Indian government has exhibited disrespect for Sikh religious rituals by barring them clearance for a religious event”.

Chairman Public Accounts Committee Syed Yawar Bokhari thanked the Sikh delegation for visiting his residence and said that he was agreed with Sardar Mahendar Paal Singh for abolishing word “Minority” and said that Pakistan govt believes in religious freedom and its ample proof is the religious freedom given to Sikhs here , their Gurdwaras are well maintained and govt sanctions funds regularly for this purpose. He said that Sardar Mahendar Paal Singh was representing Sikhs community in a best possible way and making efforts for their well being.

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