Pakistan Prime Minister Addresses Sikh Gathering on Gurpurab Occassion

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf giving away souvenir to Sardar Jang Bahadur Singh at an event marking the 544th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. PHOTO: INP

LAHORE, Pakistan—Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said on Sunday that no religion in the world teaches militancy and all of them highlight the virtues of serving humanity.

The premier also addressed concerns raised by Sikh participants at a cultural event titled, “Aj Sikh Qaum Kithey Kharri Hai” (Where does the Sikh nation stand today?), organised by the Dyal Singh Research and Cultural Forum, marking the 544th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.

In his address, the prime minister vowed that the government will make the process of issuing visas to Sikh pilgrims easier and announced that a probe will be launched against the Pakistan embassy in the UK if it has created hurdles in granting visas to Sikh pilgrims living in the UK.

However, the premier’s speech focused on religious harmony. He described the teachings of Baba Guru Nanak and interpreted poetry of renowned Sikh poet Ishar Singh Ishar.

“In his poetry, Ishar criticised extremism and presented the true image of the religion,” Ashraf said, adding that Islam too is critical of radical elements.

He said that every faith asks its followers to serve mankind and forbids them from using it to acquire individual benefits. The prime minister added that both Sikhism and Islam share common characteristics such as the unity of God.

He said the government has abandoned the word ‘minority’ and has also abolished the ministry of minorities, replacing it with a new one namely, the ministry of national harmony.

Sikh grievances

At the event, Manmohan Singh Khalsa, who travels to Pakistan from the UK along with hundreds of Sikhs to celebrate Guru Nanak’s death and birth anniversaries, pointed out that Pakistan’s embassy in the UK mistreated Sikh pilgrims.

Member of the Shiromani Sikh Gurdwara Perbandhak Committee, Sardar Jang Bahadar Singh demanded an increase in the quota of visas issued to Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan.

Currently around 3,000 Sikhs are participating in Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary celebrations.

President of Babbar Khalsa International, a German-based Sikh organisation, Sardar Resham Singh Babbar, while speaking at the event demanded the government to allow Sikhs living in India to seek asylum in Pakistan. He said that Sikhs in India are worried about their rights in Pakistan.

Other participants

Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, Federal Ministers Samina Khalid Ghurki and Akram Masih Gill, Advisor to Prime Minister on National Harmony Dr Paul Bhatti and PPP’s leaders Naveed Chaudhry were present at the event.

Around 500 Sikhs participated at the event and highlighted its importance.

Indian Singer Hans Raj Hans was also present at the event.

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