Pak PM asks officials to redress grievances of Sikh pilgrims
Lahore: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Sunday took strict notice of constraints faced by Sikh pilgrims in Britain in obtaining visas due to the working of the company hired by Pakistan`s High Commission in that country.
Sardar Manmohan Singh Khalsa of Britain said the company hired by the Pakistani mission charged an additional USD 60 from each yatri or pilgrim.
He complained about the matter to Ashraf during a seminar and cultural programme here.
Taking note of the issue, the premier tasked Evacuee Trust Property Board Chairman Syed Asif Hashmi to look into the matter and redress the grievances of the pilgrims.
During the seminar on the theme "Where the Sikh nation stands today" organised by Dyal Singh Research and Cultural Forum in connection with the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, Ashraf greeted the Sikh community.
"It is a matter of pride for us that Pakistan has many holy places of the Sikhs. Wherever in the world you live, you have a religious attachment to this soil," he said.
The Sikh and Muslim communities of the subcontinent have identical values and cultural heritage, he said.
The most common value is "Tawheed" (oneness of God) and "we have to promote and strengthen these relations," he said.
Guru Nanak was a great believer in reconciliation and a reformer and he was strongly against social immorality and lawlessness, he said.
Guru Nanak always advocated love, fraternity, peace and justice and that was why people belonging to every religion respected him, Ashraf said.
Islam too advocates justice, peace, love, fraternity and equal rights for all segments of society, including minority communities, and ensures respect and security for minorities, he said.
The Pakistan People`s Party-led government is committed to protecting the rights of minority communities and his government believed in promoting good relations between Sikhs and Muslims, Ashraf said.
The government has established a separate Ministry of National Harmony to facilitate minorities and to restore their holy places to enable them to perform their religious rituals with freedom as envisaged in the manifesto of the PPP, he said.
Sardar Manmohan Singh Khalsa said Pakistan and India should come closer and resolve their disputes with sincerity and in a democratic manner.
Sikh leaders also called for simplifying Pakistan’s visa procedures and for enhancing the number of visas for Sikh pilgrims to 25,000.
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