ATTOCK   -  Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad Monday said the opening of Kartarpura border was a great peace initiative by Pakistan which has been lauded by the whole world.

“This government is taking steps to facilitate Sikh pilgrims coming from India and other parts of the world and this is an ample proof that Pakistan believes in religious freedom,” he said while addressing the concluding ceremony of Guru Nanak Birth Anniversary at Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hasan Abdal.

The ceremony was attended by a large number of Sikh Community including 3000 Indians.  He said all necessary arrangements will be made to facilitate Sikh pilgrims to visit Kartarpura using the corridor as soon as possible. The minister said the government has sanctioned Rs400 million for Narowal Railway Station while Rs250 million are being spent for renovation of Hasan Abdal Railway Station.

He said that Sikh pilgrims coming from India are provided special trains having all facilities for visiting Gurdwara Punja Sahib and assured them that additional bogies will be attached with special trains to facilitate Sikh pilgrims.

He said that opening of Kartarpura will act as a bridge between India and Pakistan.

“Opening of Kartarpur was a longstanding desire of Sikh Community which is being materialised and by this act Pakistan has won hearts of millions of Sikhs across the world.”

Sikh group leaders also spoke on the occasion and expressed their satisfaction over the arrangements made for them at Punja Sahib and other gurdwaras. Latter while talking to newsmen, Sohan Singh, contingent leader from Bhai Mardana Sikh committee said that every religion of the world teaches love, tolerance and respect for humanity. He lauded the Pakistan government’s sincere efforts for ensuring religious freedom to minorities and safeguarding sacred places and gurudwaras of the Sikh community in Pakistan.

He also thanked Pakistanis for rendering splendid hospitality to the visiting Sikh Yatrees who came from across the world. However, leader of the female contingent from India, Manmohan Kaur expressed her displeasure over mismanagement by railways department, which has left over 113 Indian pilgrims at Nankana Sahib. She said that despite prior information, additional coaches were not attached with trains and as a result many pilgrims were left abandoned at Nankana Sahib Railway Station.