The Caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab has sent pleasant waves of tolerance and openness in his statement regarding the facilitation of Sikh Yatrees from all over the world as they visit their religious sites in the province. CM Mohsin Naqvi was speaking in a ceremony held for Sikh Yatrees visiting from the United Kingdom. In a blow of fresh air for the Sikh community specifically and for everyone generally, he promised full support to the religious tourists.
Amidst an environment that has turned more suffocating for the Sikh community in the recent days of the India-Canada row over Hardeep Singh’s murder in Canada, such a welcoming message comes as a sigh of relief. The announcement of the reconstruction of the road that connects Lahore and Kartarpur by the CM is just one initial display of resolve in this matter. The symbolism of reassuring support and extension of facilities while speaking to Sikhs from the UK is important. The underlying message extends to Sikhs from all over the world and not just the region.
Inclusivity and religious tolerance must bloom in a situation where few instances of targeting minorities have sent shock waves across the country. On one hand, this tolerance paves the way for religious tourism and on the other, it helps set a positive image of the country. The soft image of a country is strengthened through such steps. Pakistan will win a soft spot in the hearts and minds of the Sikh community worldwide. Apparently a small gesture, it carries a bigger impact.
The inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor in 2019 was a historic day that left the Sikhs overjoyed. Now this fresh commitment towards Sikh Yatrees is a seed-in-sowing. Sikhs from across the globe will remember this as a heart-warming gesture from a welcoming people. Against the backdrop of hostile air and unjust persecution of Sikhs by the neighbouring country, the CM’s statement is reassuring. The only good way forward is to reinstate these sentiments and live up to the commitments.