Religious tourism: British Sikhs to invest millions in Pakistan

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By Muhammad Luqman

Pakistan’s leading business group and British Sikh Association have joined hands to work together in the development of the infrastructure for the Kartarpur Corridor and other sites of religious importance in Pakistan for Sikh pilgrims.

Under the MoU signed  between British Sikh Association and Hashoo Group, both parties will work together to develop a suitable master plan for the project and formulate a 10-year development and marketing strategy for the project. It says that the detailed terms and condition will be set out by execution of separate agreements for selected projects.

According to media reports, both  parties will also collaborate and support each other in promotion of the project, land acquisition, press communications, marketing strategies and raising funds to budget the projects. They will also identify mutually acceptable investment opportunities connected with the project within Pakistan. Kartarpur is a most sacred place in the Sikh religion. It is also the place where Guru Nanak lived the latter part of his life until his heavenly departure and where the holy shrine of Gurdwara Darabar Sahib is located. The Sikhs feel that it is their birth right to be able to visit their holy shrines which was sadly restricted since the partition of 1947.

A significant step to open the corridor was recently initiated when Indian Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu attended Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inaugural ceremony in August 2018. The government of Pakistan has plan to open the Kartarpur Corridor  on the occasion of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in November 2019 as a gesture to the global Sikh community. The corridor will allow pilgrims visa free access.

The willingness and intent of both countries was enshrined with the foundations being laid for the Kartarpur Corridor in November 2018 by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Pakistani side and Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu in Dera Baba Nanak on Indian side.

As a next step, for development of a permanent and sustainable corridor and related infrastructure, a delegation from Pakistan visited the UK to meet leaders from the British Sikh Community. The Pakistani delegation included Ambassador Hameed Kidwai, Deputy Chairman of the Hashoo Group Murtaza Haswani, and Hashoo Group’s Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer Steven Henderson, English newspaper, The News reported.

The Pakistani delegation met with Chairman of Sun Mark Ltd and Chairman of the British Sikh Association Dr Rami Ranger CBE, along with British Sikh Association President Amarjit Dassan, Vice Chairman Dr Ravi Gidar and Vice Presidents Jasbir Johal and Surjit Pandher. The Sikh Gurdwaras were represented by Gurmail Singh Malhi, the President of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Southall, London.

A Parliamentary meeting was organised recently to share Kartarpur plans which culminated with the signing of the MoU between the British Sikh Association and Hashoo Group, signed by Dr Rami Ranger CBE on behalf of the British Sikh Association and Murtaza Haswani on behalf of the Hashoo Group.

In a statement issued after signing the MoU, Dr Rami Ranger said that it was a historic opportunity and one that he did not expect to see in his lifetime. “We are proud of the steps taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan and supported by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi for the development and opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, it will be great benefit to both countries and is a blessing for the Sikh Community”.

 

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