LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has congratulated the Sikhs on Baisakhi.

In his message, he said:  “The history of celebrating the traditional festival of Baisakhi in the subcontinent is centuries old. It is an occasion of festivity which symbolises societal love, affection and happiness. In this season, the farmers in this part of the world start cutting their wheat crop and such traditional public fairs and carnivals are organised to symbolize jubilant emotions of the farming community. It is also an occasion to express love and affection with each other.”

He continued: “The government equally shares the joys of the Sikh community because sharing of each other’s joys and happiness promotes brotherhood and a sense of unity. People enjoy complete liberty to follow their religions in Pakistan.

There are quite a number of sacred places of Sikh community in Punjab and other parts of the country and the government has always given complete attention to wellbeing, renovation and security of Sikh Gurdawaras in Pakistan. Along with it, all facilities have been provided to the Sikh community to perform their religious ceremonies and during our government tenure, further improvements have been brought in the arrangements of Gurdawaras,” concluded the Chief Minister

 On Thursday, over 1700 Sikh pilgrims arrived in the city from India to celebrate Baisakhi.

Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Secretary Tariq Wazir Khan, Pardhan Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Sardar Tara Singh and other board officials received them warmly.

The Pakistan government made foolproof security arrangements besides immigration, customs, bank and medical camp facilities at Wahga railway station to facilitate the pilgrims.

Talking to the media, Sikh group leaders Sardar Gurmeet Singh and Sardar Charan Singh said that they would remember the warmth welcome of Pakistan government and expressed satisfaction over the arrangements of ETPB for sikh gurdwaras in Pakistan.

They said that land of Pakistan is sacred and Sikh community always received love from here, adding that they wished to come here again and again.

Soon after arrival, the Sikh pilgrims left for Punja Sahib Hassanabdal to celebrate baisakhi celebrations. They would stay there for three days and perform their religious rituals.The central ceremony of Baisakhi festival will be held there on April 14 and the Sikh yatrees will perform their rituals.

Later, they will visit Janam Asthan, Nankana Sahab, on April 15 and the next day they will visit Sucha Souda Farooqabad and perform their rituals.

They will also visit Gurdwara Rohri Sahib Aimonabad and Kartarpur Narowal on April 17.  The yatrees will visit Gurdwara Dera Sahib Lahore on April 18. Sikh yatrees will return to India on April 21.