Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his video message, assured the Sikh community that the government would fully protect their holy sites in Pakistan, including the two most sacred ones of Nankana Sahib and Katarpur. He was felicitating the Sikh community on the 551st birth anniversary of Baba Dev Guru Nanak.
— Prime Minister's Office (@PakPMO) November 30, 2020
Both the sites are as sacred to Sikhs as Makkah and Madina for the Muslims, the premier said, stressing that the incumbent government would extend every possible assistance and facility to the Sikh community.
“Pakistan recently revamped the railway station of Hassan Abdal to facilitate the pilgrims intending to visit the holy Punja Sahib,” he recalled.
PM Imran Khan reiterated that all religious sites in the country would be given protection, adding that the policy of the PTI-led government is to protect all religious minorities in Pakistan and also their holy places, may it be churches, temples, or Buddhist monasteries.
PM Khan has been making all attempts to address the issues religious minorities facing in Pakistan. However, the Indian regime has turned to be a tough place for the religious minorities—particularly for Muslims– where freedom of expression is facing serious threats, opine experts.
PM Modi taking credit for Sikhs rights?
The Modi-led BJP did not show much interest in the construction of the Kartarpur corridor. There have been various baseless allegations, leveled against Pakistan by New Delhi and violations of Pakistan’s airspace. Despite all the tactics used by the BJP, Pakistan did not decide to shut down the corridor.
But later on, the Indian premier declared himself as the champion of Sikh’s rights, who managed the opening of the corridor for them. A statement of the Indian premier irked Sikh Community. Ravinder Pal Singh Timma, President Gursikh Welfare Association, told local media in Agra that this corridor was a brainchild of the association and they had been trying to get this which was sanctioned by the government of Pakistan for the past 19 years.
He also showed some past documentation and correspondence he personally had with the foreign ministries of both India and Pakistan, Mr Timma said that “What the BJP is doing now, it is taking credit of the fruit that has been borne by the efforts of the Sikhs. The Sikh community has never received its due share in the country and have always been deceived. 87 percent of the martyrs in the freedom struggle were from Punjab, yet the Sikh community was never appreciated.”
He said that he had even talked to the then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf during the Agra summit and requested that the Kartarpur shrine be gifted to India, or be declared No-Man’s Land and a corridor be constructed leading from the Indian border to the shrine.
Religious Minorities in India
The rise of Hindutva in India has been marginalizing religious minorities in India. According to several reports, the primary target of mob violence of BJP goons are Muslims but sometimes Sikhs who are believed to be ideologically alien are also beaten up.
The 2018 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom released by Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, in June stated that “Hindu-groups had used violence, intimidation, and harassment against Muslims and low-caste Dalits in 2017 to force a religion-based national identity.”
It is important to recall that RSS does not believe that Sikhs are a distinct religious community. RSS’s insistence that Sikhs are ‘Kesadhari Hindus’ though a ‘valorous’ ones hurt religious sentiments of the latter and questions their distinctive identity in so-called secular India. Interestingly, there is a strong belief amongst Sikhs that RSS is actively conspiring to undermine their religion through various direct and indirect means to ultimately wipe them out.