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Posts Tagged Sikh

Sikh businesses commit to provide massive £500m injection into Pakistan Gurdwaras as Imran Khan led government make positive overtures to UK Sikhs

Sikh businesses commit to providing massive £500m injection into Pakistan Gurdwaras as Imran Khan led the government to make positive overtures to UK Sikhs

London – 10 June 2019

Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari the Chairman of the Pakistan Tourism Board and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan met Sikh community representatives at The Rembrandt Hotel in London on 10 June 2019.  The meeting was to discuss religious tourism projects in Pakistan following the historic laying of foundation stones for the Kartarpur Corridor on either side of the border in November 2018.

 

 

 

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Pakistan also announces wide arrangement for the celebration of Gurpurab

Around 100,000 Sikhs from Canada, US, Malaysia and other countries also want to visit Pakistan. Photo:tribune.com.pk

In Lahore, the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) decided this year to grant visas to 10,000 Sikhs from India to participate in the 550th birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak. Pakistani officials have given a green signal to Shiromani committee, the largest representatives of Sikhs, and other small groups to take part in the celebrations. After mutual consultation, the two bodies decided that the number of pilgrims, in accordance with the 1974 Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines, will be increased from 3,000 to 10,000. Further, there will be no restrictions on the number of Sikhs coming to Pakistan from other countries.

Pakistan will issue visas to the Shiromani community and other groups, according to the quota. All such groups will provide a list of pilgrims to EPTB; no other individual apart from these will be granted a visa. Approximately 100,000 Sikhs want to visit Pakistan from India, Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia and several other countries. However, making preparations for and ensuring the security of all attendees on such a large scale is not possible, said an EPTB senior official while speaking to Express-News. However, the final decision on the matter rests with the government and the federal interior ministry.

Although Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday is in November later this year according to the Roman calendar, the Sikh community will celebrate the occasion according to the Nanak Shahi calendar in November 2019. Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousuf has already announced plans to issue a memorable coin commemorating the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

 

The Central Gurdwara (Khalsa Jatha) London supported by Peter Virdee organised the event where several significant announcements were made by Sayed Bukhari.  Many of the Sikhs that spoke congratulated the Pakistan government for the stand taken regarding not only the establishment of the Kartarpur Corridor but also other measures being taken for the 550th Gurpurb of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Sayed Bukhari made a series of specific commitments regarding visas for religious reasons, including the possibility of visas online and visas on arrival.  However, after being pushed on this issue during a question-answer session he said he would ensure the establishment of tourism desks in Pakistani embassies and dedicated staff to facilitate visas for those taking part in Yatras in Pakistan later this year.

He also made a specific commitment on connectivity whereby high standard free buses would connect all the main Gurdwaras in Pakistan.  Several speakers also made comments about the Pakistan authorities needing to ensure the preservation of the rich religious and national heritage of the Sikhs rather than allow renovation by some that have little or no appreciation of preservation.

A Pakistani journalist made a generous gesture of donating land for the Pakistani authorities to build accommodation near Kartarpur.  However, this was overshadowed by Peter Virdee making a huge financial commitment by announcing the setting up of a trust under the name of Guru Nanak Dev Ji  رحمة الله.  He said the Peter Virdee Foundation and other business people he had discussed the project with were prepared to inject a massive £500m.  He said money was not an issue for the Sikh community as they were prepared to lay down their lives for their Gurdwaras.

The announcement concluded an excellent event with speakers alongside Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari including Peter Virdee, Gurpreet Singh Anand, Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), Preet Kaur Gill MP, Neena Gill MEP, Lord Suri, Sukhjeevan Singh, the Spokesperson for the Sikh Council UK, Dabinderjit Singh, Manvir Singh Bhogal and Justice Anup Singh.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

www.sikhfeduk.com |sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk | facebook.com/Sikh Federation UK | twitter @Sikhfeduk

 

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The Sikh Federation (UK) is by far the largest, most prominent and influential campaigning Sikh organisation in the UK that leads to political engagement for the British Sikh community.  The organisation is often referred to as the first and only Sikh political party.  The Sikh community in the UK and throughout the diaspora look to the organisation for leadership and direction.

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Sikh and Hindu officers usher in a new era in Pakistani Army

Sikh and Hindu officers usher in a new era in Pakistani Army

June 9, 2008 Source: www.daily.pk

Sunday, 08 June 2008 – In the picturesque surroundings of Kakul, Abbottabad, in NWFP, stands a quaint colonial building housing the prestigious Pakistan Military Academy (PMA).

I’m consequently surprised to hear about the scene the PMA witnessed two years ago”as the sound of Azaan echoed in the PMA, a cadet in his room rolled out the jainamaz facing the west. His mate, however, turned to his own sacred corner, where symbols of Sikh religion were gathered.

Their prayers over, they returned to their chores, oblivious of the history they had created in the academy. This is Pakistan, the land where rampant strives to squash the remaining semblances of religious tolerance.

It wasn’t that the PMA proscribed other forms of worship; there simply hadn’t been a Sikh cadet till then.

Narrating this stirring story is Hercharin Singh, Pakistan’s first Sikh officer and a symbol of the changing face of its army. Now 23, dressed in a smart khaki uniform and sporting a solitary star on his shoulder, Lieutenant Singh cannot help suppress the sense of pride he feels whenever he passes his juniors and the response is a smart salute to him!

He and I are sitting in the posh Officers Mess of Malir cantonment, Karachi. Providing us company are Capt Danish in his Ranger’s uniform and Capt Aneel Kumar, both Hindu doctors of the Combined Military Hospital. Capt Danish is considered the first Hindu officer to have been drafted into the Pakistan army.

They display verve as we talk, and listen in rapt attention to the experiences of each other in the army. Says Singh about his PMA days, “At times I used to wonder what I had landed myself into. I stood out like a sore thumb and many of the cadets had never seen a Sikh in flesh. I had a tough time because of my appearance. Others — Hindu and Christian — at least look like ‘ordinary’ cadets.”

For nearly two years, We had been relentlessly seeking access to Singh and the two Hindu officers. It took months of persistent lobbying by ISPR’s Director-General Gen Athar Abbas before the army agreed to allow an interview with the three officers. As Col Atiq coordinated to fly to Karachi last week, new obstacles kept surfacing. Lt Col Idrees Malik in Karachi had to implore his superiors to grant permission to Singh to miss a day’s class in the course he’s taking, and bring out Capt Danish from interior Sindh.

At the officers’ mess, amidst smiles and show of palpable pride, Singh begins his story from the day his romance with the Pakistan army was sparked. Like all poignant stories, it was ignited with a chance glimpse and an irrepressible tug of the heartstrings. Nearly three years ago, he and his friends decided to apply to the prestigious National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore. On their way they passed an army recruitment centre. Something was felt, perhaps. “But no-one had any idea of a Sikh being allowed entry into Pakistan’s military institutions,” Singh recalls.

Singh was granted admission to the NCA. But he decided to visit the recruitment centre and made inquiries. He was told the law didn’t proscribe Sikhs from the army. Singh promptly submitted an application, arousing curiosity at the centre about the “Sikh who wants to join the army.” He was selected, in the process grabbing headlines countrywide. But his family was opposed to his joining the army. The elders wanted him to head the business of his father who had died years ago. And Singh’s mother believed a career in the army would shame the family. Shame? “All our lives our community had been ridiculed and humiliated. Especially in the electronic media Sikhs were portrayed as drunks, womanizers and villains. My mother said that I wouldn’t be respected and this would bring shame to the family.”

At the PMA, the callow, sensitive Sardarji was baffled to hear some ask him to convert to Islam. “I wondered, what kind of people are these who are not happy with the way I am and offered to convert me. I didn’t mind jokes about Sikhs because these are so common,” he says. At Kakul, sensing the irritating inquisitiveness of other cadets, he decided to ensure his religion or culture was not compromised. After all, he says, “My sergeant told me that I was free to follow my religion and that everything would be done to make me comfortable.”

It was quite clear that the strict and strenuous rigors of the military had in no way broken the spirit and over confidence of Sardarji or his two Hindu colleagues. The Pakistan army has really changed in more than one ways. They are now producing officers who are literally wearing their religion on their sleeves with pride, and the self-confidence of speaking to the media for hours is a change from interactions that this writer has had with young officers over the decades.

Courtesy: http://www.sikhnet.com/daily-news/sikh-and-hindu-officers-a-new-era-pakistan-army

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