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SAHIWAL: The American Sikh Council (ASC) and the Sikh in America (SIA) have appealed to the Pakistani government to make sure that the Kartarpur Sahib Complex (KSC) is maintained in its original state.

A message posted at the website of the ASC reads that “any structural changes and/or additions to accommodate upcoming huge visitors either coming from India, Pakistan or Sikh diaspora living across globe by lodging to restrooms and more must be done at a distance, away from the main KSC so that the Kartarpur Sahib original farms, natural areas spread around 100 acres of land that belonged to Guru Sahibji, and the forest areas around the River Ravi can retain as much of its originality as possible. This needs to be preserved in its original landscape for posterity”.

The appeal was made in the background of recent development where both Pakistani and Indian governments agreed to open up Kartarpur Corridor for Sikhs to visit the birthplace of their prophet Baba Guru Nanak.

Dr Gurdas Singh, ASC president, and Gurinder Pal Singh, SIA president, told Dawn by phone the Pakistani government might change the original archeological and cultural structure and lawns of the complex.

Gurinder Pal Singh said they feared that in the name of development sometimes original and historical architecture were not being taken care of by contractors.

“Such efforts must be and should be kept at bay without compromising original structure spread across 100 acres,” he explained.

He said the Auqaf Department and the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandak Committee must understand the legitimate concerns of the Sikh diaspora.

He said Sikhs everywhere yearned to visit the Kartarpur Sahibje and see the fields that their wondrous ‘Guru’ tilled with his own hands, the place where he lived, the trees he sat under and feel and touch their forehead on the same dusty soil that their ‘Guru’ walked on!

Both ASC and SIA presidents thanked the Pakistani government for opening the Kartarpur Corridor and taking “proactive step towards peace and amity of two people (Indian Punjab and Pakistani Punjab) who have so much in common, from language to food, from Punjabi poetry to clothes and so much more”.

Dr Gurdas told Dawn a group of young American Sikhs started a Facebook page to monitor and report on the developments of the Kartarpur Corridor and to make concerned voices heard in regards to the development.

GP Singh says Kartarpur Sahib is the place where the founder of the Sikh faith spent 18.5 years of his life as a farmer, a householder, a husband, a father while spreading the word of love, humanism, universal sisterhood and brotherhood and making sure that his followers learnt how to raise their voices against any kind of tyranny, be it state repression or social discrimination.

Kartarpur Sahib can be called the first Gurdwara which was established in 1521. Bhai Dhuni Chand donated 100 acres to Baba Guru Nanak Sahibji. This land is still associated with the KGC. Both organizations wished that it would be heartening to see if any renowned Pakistani architecture along with provincial department of archaeology gets involved in revising and keeping old structure intact.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

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