LAHORE    -   Punjab Governor Ch Muhammad Sarwar has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the Kartarpur Corridor in November.

Addressing the first International Sikh Convention at Governor’s House on Saturday, he said the project would be completed on time and inaugurated before 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak despite ‘hurdles from India’.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and Naeemul Huq, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri, provincial ministers and a large number of Sikhs from the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and other European countries attended the convention.

The event, which will conclude on Monday (tomorrow), will gather suggestions on preparations for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism faith founder Baba Guru Nanak.

Fearing mischief from India before formal inauguration of the corridor, Sarwar said the Kartarpur Corridor would be opened for Sikhs despite all hurdles.

Referring to Indian atrocities in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir, he said that countdown has begun for India and the oppressed innocent people would soon get freedom. If India shows seriousness, he said, both countries could resolve outstanding issues through dialogue. But unfortunately, he said, India was showing stubbornness. In India, he said, all minorities, including Muslims, Sikh, Christians and Dalits, were facing untold oppression. Like Islam, he said, Baba Guru Nanak preached equality and love for humanity.

On the eve of birth anniversary celebrations, he said, Sikh pilgrims would be provided all facilities, including foolproof security. In Naya Pakistan under the leadership of Imran Khan, minorities are enjoying equal rights, he said, adding, the present government has taken measures for welfare of Sikhs and other minorities. He said that initiation and timely completion of Kartarpur Corridor showed love of PM Imran Khan for Sikhs. He said that PM Imran Khan has already ordered removal of hurdles in inauguration of the project. He said that 80% work on the project has already been completed. Baba Guru Nanak Railway Corridor from Nankana Sahib to Kartarpur and Gurdwara Sucha Sauda Road were near completion. He said that jurisdiction of Lahore Safe City Authority has been extended to Nankana Sahib for foolproof security for Sikh pilgrims.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the Modi government has shown real face of India by intensifying 70-year genocide and torture of Kashmiri Muslims. She said all religious minorities in India, especially Muslims, were facing worst hatred, discrimination, lynching and marginalization at the hands of the fascist Modi-led BJP government. She urged the world to take immediate steps to protect minorities. She expressed the hope that the Sikh community coming from Western countries would project the image of Pakistan as a peace-loving nation in the world in contrast to India where minorities are facing suppression, lynching and marginalization.

She praised Baba Guru Nanak’s teachings of love and peaceful coexistence. She urged Sikhs to become voice of the oppressed Kashmiri people in light of teachings of Baba Guru Nanak.

“Let’s eliminate forces of hatred and intolerance from the world, may they be genocide of Sikhs in Golden Temple, persecution of Muslims in Kashmir, brutality in Palestine or other parts of the world,” she said.

Expressing resolve to eradicate extremism from the country, she said that PM Imran Khan has emerged as a strong advocate for minorities’ rights, making protection of minorities top priority of his government. She said the Sikh religion had many ideals in common with Islam. Baba Guru Nanak was influenced by Islam’s philosophy of Oneness of God, she added.

Terming Kartarpur Corridor a historic project, she said it would prove to be a long lasting bond between Pakistan and the Sikh community.

Being a devout follower of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), Imran Khan wished to make Pakistan (a welfare state) on the pattern of State of Madinah, she added.

Pir Noorul Haq Qadri said the convention was not political but a step towards making the region an abode of peace. He said the Sikh community looks towards Pakistan with respect for protecting their religious places like Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur. He said there was a need to spread Baba Guru Nanak’s philosophy of love, peace and humanity. He said whatever the circumstances may be, Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir would not change.

About the Kartarpur Corridor, he said the project would be completed irrespective of Pakistan’s diplomatic relations with the Indian government of Narendra Modi. He said that Pakistan has a principled stand on Kashmir and supports right to self-determination for the Kashmiris. He stressed the need to disseminate Baba Guru Nanak’s message of love, equality, humanism and tolerance.

Naeemul Haq said the government of PM Imran wanted the Sikh community to consider Pakistan their home, adding that Islamabad would always stand by them for their political and religious rights. He said Kartarpur Corridor would provide thousands of Sikh pilgrims from India a chance to visit their sacred places on a daily basis.