Pakistan asks Sikhs around the world to raise voice for Kashmir

Pakistan asks Sikhs around the world to raise voice for Kashmir
Sikh pilgrims shout slogans on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Nankana Sahib, a district in the Punjab province of Pakistan on November 23, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 31 August 2019

Pakistan asks Sikhs around the world to raise voice for Kashmir

Pakistan asks Sikhs around the world to raise voice for Kashmir
  • First-ever International Sikh Convention held in the eastern city of Lahore 
  • PM’s special assistant Naeemul Haq says government mulling multiple-entry visas for Sikhs

LAHORE: Pakistani top officials on Saturday 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 in the eastern city of 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.”
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.
In a rare instance of cooperation, Pakistan said last year it would work with India to construct a corridor which will give Sikh pilgrims from India single-day, visa-free access to visit a temple in the small Pakistani commune of Kartarpur where the founder of Sikhism is buried. 
The move was part of an official initiative to encourage tourism and project religious harmony in a region long marked by religious violence, senior officials said. 
But the region has witnessed new hostilities since New Delhi decided to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, eliciting a strong reaction from Pakistan.
Saturday’s convention 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.
The Punjab governor maintained that all problems could be resolved by initiating dialogue, noting that Pakistan was ready for talks, which India’s government was refusing. 
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.
The country’s de facto information minister, 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.”