LAHORE - Thousands of Sikh pilgrims arrived Lahore on Wednesday to participate in the festivities of Baba Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary.

Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minority Affairs Aijaz Alam Augustine welcomed the Sikh pilgrims at Wahga Railway Station, amid elaborate security arrangements. After rousing welcome from local authorities, the pilgrims left for Nankana Shahib on a special train to take part in the birth anniversary of founder of Sikh religion scheduled to be held today (Friday). The pilgrims will return India on November 30.

According to Evacuee Trust Property Board Chairperson Tahir Ehsan, 3,800 visa applications out of 4,500 received were approved this year. This is the largest number of visas issued in recent years as against normal routine of around 2,000 pilgrims.

Speaking at the welcome reception, the minister said that Sikh Pilgrims always came with the message of love and peace and felt that their Gurdwaras were safe in Pakistan. He said that foolproof security arrangements have been made for pilgrims and hopefully the message of peace would spread all over the world.

In his message, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has congratulated the Sikh community on the birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak . “We welcome the Sikh community on arrival in Pakistan to attend the birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak . Every facility will be provided to the pilgrims for performing religious rituals. The sentiments of brotherhood and unity are promoted by sharing joys and happiness of each others. Baba Guru Nanak is the best example of religious and inter-faith harmony”, he said, adding, it was the responsibility of the government to protect life and property of religious minorities; provide and protect their fundamental rights and equal opportunities of development so that they could flourish in the society.

 

Under the constitution of Pakistan, all the minorities have the fullest rights to live and grow in the country, he added. Sikh community in Pakistan enjoys complete freedom to live a life according to their faith. PTI government fully believes in inter-faith harmony and religious liberties and people of all religions have complete freedom of following their religious traditions, he concluded.