A National Defence University (NDU) delegation of senior military officers from 45 different friendly countries visited Gurdwara Siri Panja Sahib Hassanabdal on Friday.
The delegation was headed by Air Vice Marshal Syed Sabahat Hassan Shah and had officers from the army, navy, air force, civil service officers and military officers from friendly countries and faculty members of NDU Islamabad. The foreign military officers visited various parts of the Sikh temple especially sacred Sikh religious stone imprint with hand print of Baba Guru Nanak- founder of Sikh religion.
On the occasion, Evacuee trust property board (ETPB) Deputy Secretary Shrines Imran Gondal briefed the diplomats about the history and importance of Gurdwara Panja Sahib for Sikh community. He said that minorities in Pakistan have complete freedom to practice their religion and their holy days are observed under state patronage.
Mr Gondal also informed the under training military officers about various development projects launched for upkeep and provision of different facilities, especially welfare, boarding and lodging at various religious places of the minorities across the country. He said that Pakistan being custodian of different religions like Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism, is making all-out efforts for upkeep and preservation of the buildings of religious importance of various religions and ensure their religious freedom despite challenges at financial and social sectors.
Chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Dr. Aamer Ahmed said government of Pakistan and ETPB is committed to the protection of rights of minorities in the country. The participants were briefed about the initiative taken by Pakistan to open the Kartarpur Corridor for the facilitation of Sikh community adding that it was the long-standing desire of Sikhs to visa free visit one of their holiest places in Pakistan. He informed the military officers that Pakistan ensures complete freedom of the minorities which is proof of the fact that Pakistan would become the first country in the world which implemented separate marriage act for minorities. “No other country even India in the world has ever passed separate marriage act for the followers of the Sikh religion”.
He claimed. He added that Historic steps have been taken for the well being and prosperity of the Sikh community living in Punjab and all possible steps are being taken for maintenance, protection and up-keeping of Sikh Gurudwaras and other religious places of all the minority communities. On this occasion, the foreign military officials lauded the efforts of the Pakistani government for better upkeep and preservation of places of religious importance of different religions in Pakistan.