Imran Khan promises safety to Pakistani Sikhs
September 4, 2019
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has reached out to the Sikh community in his country after cases of forced conversion of Sikh girls was reported. He has assured the community that his government would ease the visit of pilgrims to the Kartarpur Gurdwara and Nankana Sahib Gurdwara for Guru Nank Devji's 550th birth anniversary.
Khan made these remarks at the International Sikh Convention in Islamabad.
Kartarpur and Nankana Sahib are as holy for Sikhs as Makkah and Madina are for Muslims. I promised to make access for Sikh pilgrims as easy as possible. This is not a favour. This was our duty. - Imran Khan, Prime Minister, Pakistan
India and Pakistan have held a series of meetings on the Kartarpur corridor which will connect Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib located in Punjab, India and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan.
His remarks come at a time when he is facing criticism after two incidents of forced conversion were reported in Pakistan showing the poor state of minorities in the country.
Jagjit Kaur, a 19-year-old, went missing for a number of days, and when she was found she said she had been forcibly converted to Islam and made to marry a Muslim man.
Another girl identified Renuka Kumari was kidnapped from her college. India took up these incidents and made an appeal to Pakistan that action be taken.
Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs tweeted that civil society and Indian citizens condemn the incidents. "We have reflected these strong concerns with Pakistan and have asked for immediate remedial action", said Kumar.
Protests were held outside the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi by a large gathering of Sikhs and others, demanding action by Pakistan. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA, Manjinder Singh Sirsa wrote to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah and tweeted, "We are very concerned about the safety of Hindu and Sikh girls in Pakistan".