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Sikhs, Sikhism, and the Punjab province of Pakistan.


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Guest Punjabi Nationalist

I am going to dedicate this thread to anything relating to Sikhs and Pakistan and to things which are related to the entire Punjab region which is now divided between Pakistan and India.

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Guest Javanmard

best thing would be to create an economical and cultural exchange zone including Pakistani Panjab and Indian Panjab like the EU or Benelux. THis would be the first step to who knows... a Panjabi state with Lahore as its capital... let's dream aloud my friends

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Guest Punjabi Nationalist
Guest Punjabi Nationalist

best thing would be to create an economical and cultural exchange zone including Pakistani Panjab and Indian Panjab like the EU or Benelux. THis would be the first step to who knows... a Panjabi state with Lahore as its capital... let's dream aloud my friends

You are right. A common cultural zone is exactly what we need and people are already working to build it.

Read the below articles:

WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 2003

Pervez for promotion of Punjabi language, culture

By Our Staff Reporter

LAHORE-Punjab Chief Minister Ch Pervez Elahi Tuesday announced a comprehensive project for promoting Punjabi language, culture and history.

In this connection, an authoritative institute would be set up to give practical shape to various suggestion and proposals to galvanize Punjabi language and literature in the province, he said addressing a meeting of writers, poets and intellectuals held at Chief Minister's House, here. Besides Chief Secretary Hafeez Akhtar Randhawa, the meeting was attended by well-known intellectuals, including Shafqat Tanveer Mirza, Shehzad Ahmed, Raja Rasalu, Amjad Islam Amjad, Afzal Tauseef, Col. Nadir, Iqbal Qaiser, Saleem Shahid, Zahid Hassan, Qazi Javed, Irfan Ahmed, Abdul Rashid Bhatti, Shaista Nuzhat, Tanveer Zahoor and Jamil Ahmed Pal.

Ch. Pervaiz Elahi said that in the past, negligence has been shown in respect of promoting and protecting Punjabi language and culture in the province, whereas a great deal of work in regional languages is being done in other provinces of the country, especially Sindh.

http://www.nation.com.pk/daily/July-2003/2...tional/lhr2.asp

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Punjabi shunned by Pak schools, yet popular

Harbans Singh Virdi

Tribune News Service

Nankana Sahib, June 21

Punjabi is spoken throughout Pakistani Punjab, but not taught in any school in Pakistan — in the absence of those willing to learn. The people write down everything in Persian script while conducting business and Punjabi in Gurmukhi script is unknown to the Punjabis in Lahore and elsewhere in Pakistan.

Still, there are some staunch followers who want to accord Punjabi a status it deserves in its original Gurmukhi script. A Punjabi journal ‘Bhulekha’ is published from Lahore. It may not command a big circulation, but its mere publication explains the surviving love for the language.

In spite of the absence of government patronage, Punjabi in Gurmukhi script still survives. It may not be kicking as they say, but it is very much alive, thanks to a few schools which the Sikhs have opened in Pakistan. This small Sikh population in Pakistan may be counted on fingertips. Besides a few Sikh families who live on the Dera Sahib Gurdwara premises, there is no other Sikh family living in Lahore.

At Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hassan Abdal, Ranjit Singh teaches Punjabi to nearly 30 children of Sikh families at Guru Nanak Devji School. He also teaches them Gurbani, so that, when they grow up, these children should know about their language, heritage, culture and a distinct identity in an alien land. The school is run on gurdwara premises.

According to Ranjit Singh, three Sikh families live on the gurdwara premises and five more in the Hassan Abdal area, and these are the ones who send their children to learn Punjabi.

The actual bases of Punjabi in Pakistan are Nankana Sahib and Peshawar. At Nankana Sahib, there are nearly 550 boys studying in Guru Nanak Devji Public High School. The councillor of Nanakana Sahib, Mr Mastan Singh, who is also managing director of the school, says that, out of the 550 students, 125 are Sikhs. However, all students are taught Punjabi. About the propagation of Punjabi, Mr Mastan Singh says the community should not look towards the government. Instead, it should itself endeavour with its own resources to teach Punjabi to the younger generation.

Punjabi also has a strong foothold at Peshawar because of the thick concentration of the Sikh families — which are more than 100. There are two schools — Bhai Joga Singh School and Guru Angad Devji School — where children of the Sikh families learn Punjabi. Though Sikh boys speak a fluent Pushto, Punjabi still thrives in these lands, thanks to the Sikhs’ love for their mother tongue.

Tribune - Chandigarh, Punjab

Punjabis demand opening of Hussainwala border (Ferozepore)

56k video

With the recent thawing of relations between India and Pakistan, the people from the Hussainiwala border are demanding opening of the border with Pakistan in order to improve business relations.

Tribune - Chandigarh, Punjab

Amarinder invites Pak Punjab CM

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27

In a passionate invitation extended to his counterpart in Pakistan Punjab, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has invited him and his Cabinet colleagues to visit City Beautiful, in the first week of November, if possible. Capt Amarinder Singh has also expressed a desire to visit Pakistan Punjab.

The invitation has been extended through the Ministry of External Affairs. Capt Amarinder Singh has written a demi-official letter to Mr Kanwal Sibal, Foreign Secretary. A request has been made by the Chief Minister to Mr Sibal to get the letter delivered to Mr Parvez Elahi, Chief Minister of Punjab in Pakistan.

While inviting Mr Elahi and his colleagues to Chandigarh, Capt Amarinder Singh has expressed concerned over “artificial barriers†that divide the two Punjabs.

Capt Amarinder Singh, has requested Mr Elahi to “let me know when it would be convenient for you to come to Chandigarh. The best time would be after the first week of November. After your visit, perhaps, I could then come to you along with my colleagues to meet you and the people of Punjabâ€.

Though Capt Amarinder Singh has not made any mention there seems to be bigger purpose of inviting Mr Elahi to Chandigarh. Pakistan is interested in importing wheat from Indian Punjab. Recently, Mr Lal Singh, Punjab Food and Supply Minister, had sought permission of the Union Government to export two million tonnes of wheat to Pakistan through Markfed. An other purpose seems to pave the way for opening the Wagah border for promoting trade with Pakistan, Afghanistan and certain Arab countries.

Tribune - Chandigarh, Punjab

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Guest BikramjitSingh

Punjabi Nationalist

You are extremely naive if you think that a couple of news items pertaining to a few political gimmicks by the subcontinent's politicians shows that a Punjabi Benelux can be created.

What interest do the Muslims of West Punjab have in Punjabiyat when they have managed through sheer numbers to take the best lands off the Sikhs ?. As one Sikh leader said of the partition, the British have taken the lands off the owners and passed it on to the tenents. The fact that these lands which were the best in 1947 haven't be utilised properly is neither here nor there.

Where you and I differ is in the fact that I consider religion as a more important unifying force than language or ethnic origin. I have more fellow feelings for a Sikligar Sikh from South India than I have for a Hindu or Muslim Punjabi. The same probably goes for the Muslim and the Hindu. It is just the few punjabiyat dey dhol vajoan wale that do not understand this.

GurFateh

Bikramjit

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Guest Punjabi Nationalist
Guest Punjabi Nationalist

Some videos from Tribune.

Click on the image to view them:

Kartarpur Sahib

jul7icev1.jpg - Most of the gurdwaras in Pakistan have people urging for more renovation works and better upkeep.

Frontier Sikhs

jul8worv1.jpg - With the reopening of the road link between India and Pakistan on July 11, Sikhs living in the tribal areas of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan are now hopeful of visiting the Golden Temple and five takhts situated in India.

Stranded Sikh Youths in Pakistan

jul4worv2.jpg - Three Sikh youths, stranded in Pakistan, await Indian High Commission to clear their papers for allowing them to return to India.

Sikh men

sep15icev5.jpg - Pak-released Sikhs appeal for release of those left behind.

Kalasha Tribe (Interesting video on Tribal peoples of the Hindu Kush)

aug5feav1.jpg - The Kalasha tribe, living in Hindu Kush mountains of Pakistan, are slowly breaking out from the mould of second class citizens in the land they once ruled.

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Guest Punjabi Nationalist

http://www.dawn.com/2002/11/11/ebr4.htm

Land ownership patterns and yields in two Punjabs

By Dr. Khalid Mustafa

The introduction of the Green Revolution technology in the Indian and Pakistan Punjabs in the mid-1960s produced impressive results in reversing food crisis and stimulating agricultural and economic growth.

Numerous studies have attributed the growth experience in both these parts of the world to rapid technological diffusion in the region. However, questions are being asked about the sustainability of the 'green revolution' in the light of high use of external inputs and growing evidence of a slowdown in productivity growth and degradation of the resource base.

Stagnating yields in farmers' field are observed despite growing input use, especially where intensive cereal mono-cropping has been practised. These problems are considered important in the wheat-rice belt, the breadbasket of northern India and Pakistan which covers over 12 million hectare and provides food security to some 500 million people.

The two Punjabs have historically been the most developed regions and continue to be so both in India and Pakistan. In Pakistan, the Punjab province comprising around 26 per cent of the total area and a population of 47.3 million representing 56 per cent of the total population, 'dominates' the political and economic scene. In contrast, the Indian Punjab, comprising only 1.57 per cent of area and a population of 20.28 million, representing a mere 2.5 per cent of the total population, contributes significant share from its agricultural output to the central pool. It was reported that the percentage share of the Indian Punjab to the central pool in wheat and rice was 69 and 57 per cent respectively during 1996-97.

The two Punjabs have pretty much the same climate, both started off with similar agro-economic and land tenure systems and both share a common culture, language, historical traditions and institutional arrangements. Furthermore, both regions have since the mid-1960s experienced rapid technological change associated with the so-called 'green revolution'. Yet, in terms of agricultural development, the Indian Punjab has shown relatively better performance.

The Indian Punjab achieved an irrigation coverage of 95 per cent of the net sown area, cropping intensity of 195, and 98 per cent coverage by high yielding varieties, which are the highest among all Indian states, but even the yields of major crops- wheat and paddy- are of a very high order, i.e., 3941 ks and 3393 kgs per hectare respectively. Almost 99 per cent of its villages were connected with all-weather rods by the late 1980s and about 77 per cent of the rural households electrified by the early 1990s.

It contributes 21 per cent of India's wheat production, 9 per cent paddy and 21 per cent cotton. With 0.744 million energized tubewells, 0.387 million tractors and 66000 combine harvesters the state's agricultural production sector is highly capital-intensive and mechanized. It also has the highest consumption of electricity, fertilizers and the highest number of tractors (28.) per unit of land (1000 acres) in the country. In fact, every third farming household in the Indian Punjab owns a tractor, and its farmers own a third of the tractors in India. In some villages, the proportion of tractor owners is found even higher.

On the other hand, the Punjab in Pakistan, like its counterpart in India made spectacular progress in its farm sector over the period, 1960's through 1990's. The yield of all crops there increased at an average rate of 1.8 per cent per annum, led by wheat and cotton. The highest yield gain occurred during 1966-74.

The introduction of short-duration varieties of major crops, supported by increased water availability triggered double-crop cultivation on the same land. Overall, the cropping intensity rose by about 30 during 1966-94. At the same time, the production of crops in that province increased at the rate of 3.3 per cent per annum during 1966-94, slightly higher than the rate of population growth.

The rate of growth remained highest during 1966-74 (3.8 per cent, per annum) and then declined to about 3 per cent as yield growth in wheat slowed sharply. Production growth rates were maintained during 1974-84 due to rapid increases in cotton yields and release of new early maturing mungbean varieties. Significant differences in the performance of wheat-cotton and wheat-mungbean systems found was double that of the wheat-rice system.

The superior agricultural performance of the Indian Punjab, as demonstrated by almost twice the rate of productivity, owes its origins to the well-established facilities in social infrastructure, higher irrigation intensity of private tubewells, a greater use of fertilizers and insecticides and a more stable price policy in agriculture in India compared to Pakistan. These policies may also be traced back to the nature of the political regimes and the consequent role of political leadership in the two countries.

In addition, agrarian structure of the Indian Punjab, it is argued, proved to be more conducive to the development of agriculture than was the case for Punjab in Pakistan where big landlords dominate the rural scene. The case in the Indian Punjab is that most of the area is under owner- cultivation, predominantly in the hands of the middle and rich peasantry. Owner-cultivation and smaller size of holdings, helped by effective land consolidation and land reform policies, have proved to be a vital factor in the success in agricultural development.

TABLE 1

Table 1: Distribution of land holdings in two Punjabs (1990-91)

______Punjab (Pakistan)______________________Punjab (India)

________Distribution_______________________________No. of

__________of land_______________________________operational

_________ownership______________________________holding

Owners___(percent)__Area__(percent)___Size of.______Number of__(percent)

__________________________________holdings

53.48_____________14.07____________Upto 2__________44.74

__________________________________ hact.

__________83.75___________41.09___________________________ 79.2

29.87_____________27.87_____________25-5__________34.46

___________________________________hact.

10.79_____________21.17_____________5-10__________14.78

___________________________________hact.

04.06_____________15.40____________10-20___________5.00

___________________________________hact.

01.78_____________21.46____________20 & above______01.01

The major effect of the differences in agrarian structure (as also reflected in the differences in political power structures) has important implications for the manner and intensity of utilization of new technology as and when it became available. In the Pakistan, a small minority of large landowners controlling a majority of the land and monopolizing the agricultural inputs market are believed to have largely appropriated the benefits, channelled through rural institutions whereas in the Indian Punjab, it was both the middle and the rich peasants, managing most of the land who seized the opportunities for capitalist agriculture. Thus in the former case benefits remained restricted to a small minority whereas in the latter benefits were diffused throughout the peasantry, albeit disproportionately.

Post-green revolution scenario: The momentum of the green revolution in two Punjabs has however not been sustained. Stagnation in yields is now accompanied by increasing costs of cultivation. For instance, by the mid-1980s, a wheat grower in the Indian Punjab was obtaining lower net returns per hectare, even after incurring higher costs per hectare on modern inputs. The cost increase came largely from over mechanization, labour and irrigation costs, and not from modern farm inputs like fertilizers, seeds or pesticides, so far as wheat and paddy crops are concerned. Almost similar trend is reported in various studies undertaken in the Pakistan's Punjab.

TABLE 2

Table 2: Net returns of wheat and paddy in two Punjabs

_____________________________________________(Rs/hectare)

Items_____________ Wheat________________Rice

__________________Punjab_____ Punjab____Punjab_____Punjab

_________________(Pakistan)____(India)___(Pakistan)____(India)

Fixed Cost Net_______417.46______6221____7212.12_____5925

Operational Cost____9456.13______7677____7882.21_____9998

Total Cost_________13628.77_____13898___15094.33____15923

Yield (Kg/ha)________2150.00______3834____1260.00_____5255

Gross Return________8600.00_____15758____6615.00____19117

Net Return__________-5023.77_____1860____-8479.33_____3194

There is an evidence of declining viability of small holdings in the Indian Punjab. The number of operational holdings in 1980-81 declined as compared to those in 1970-71 due to a phenomenon of 'reverse tenancy' under which small and marginal farmers started leasing out land on cash terms to the medium and large-area farmers who had sufficient capital and family labour and had made investments in machinery and irrigation structures. Due to this phenomenon largely, and the non-farm work to some extent, by 1987-88, 34 per cent of the holdings in the Indian Punjab were leased in as compared with only 26 percent in 1971-72.

This trend has made agriculture in the Indian Punjab capital intensive, rather capitalist in nature. It is reported that about 20 percent of the total farming population, 24 percent of the small farmers, and 31 per cent of the marginal farmers in the Indian Punjab have income below poverty line. On the other hand, farm size in the Pakistan Punjab has continuously declined over the past three decades, with a decreasing share of that land farmed by the tenants.

This trend, like that in the Indian Punjab, has caused disparity in the farm income between various categories of farm holdings and shifted the poverty profile upward, particularly so in case of tenants and marginal farmers. Nonetheless, human resource investments and infrastructure in the Pakistan Punjab steadily improved over the period 1960's through 1990's, while rural literacy remained very low.

Due to the intensification brought about by the green revolution, the farming sector in the Indian Punjab has ended up growing only two crops - wheat and rice - which account for as much as 71 per cent of the gross cropped area. The intensive production has led not only to monocultures in general in the state due to rice and wheat rotation and, within these two crops in particular, but also higher incidence of pests and diseases.

This has led to ecological problems: decline in water table, water logging, soil salinity, toxicity and micronutrient deficiency. On the other hand, soil and water quality in the Pakistan Punjab also deteriorated during 1966-94. For example, average soil organic matter, which was already lower than 1% during the early 1970s, further deteriorated at an average annual rate of 2.3 per cent, (or a decline of over 33 per cent) during 1980s and early 1990s. Similarly, there has also been an increase in the deterioration in tubewell water quality, reflected in a significant increase in residual carbonate and electroconductivity of tubewell water. Residual carbonates have almost doubled over years, reflecting the common observation that farmers in Pakistan Punjab are increasingly tapping poorer quality groundwater.

Lessons: The land in the Indian and Pakistan Punjabs is increasingly unable to support burden of intensive agriculture. Crop yields- and water resources are declining alarmingly, and some parts are close to becoming barren. Many farmers are heavily in debt from their investments in new equipment and reliance on chemicals, and rural unemployment is increasing. Other intensive farming practices in both the Indian and Pakistani Punjab, particularly with wheat and rice, have virtually mined nutrients from the soil. For instance, heavy use of fertilizers has disastrous effect: excess nitrates have leached into groundwater and contamination of groundwater with nitrates has increased dramatically. As such, the cultivable lands have become sick through over-application of chemicals.

Combined with the stagnation of output in recent years, reflected in large-scale imports of food and food products, underline growing concerns about degradation in most valuable asset-irrigated land base in two Punjabs. Resource degradation in itself is not a reason for policy intervention if it is internationalized into producer decision making. However, in this case, there are several reasons to believe that this is not the case.

First, some of the problems have arisen from distorted policies that have lead to divergence in private and social costs. In particular, seven modern inputs were subsidized for much of the period, 1966-96. Even now electricity for tubewell operation is priced at a fixed annual rate, particularly so in the Indian Punjab, leading to overuse of poor quality tubewell water which is a major contributor to soil salinity.

Second, the information base on which farmers make decisions is inadequate with respect to internalizing rapid changes in soil and water quality variables by moving to more sustainable practices such as integrated nutrient and pest management, more diversified crop rotations, and incorporation of legumes into the system. Third, public sector research has undoubtedly been biased towards development of technologies based on packages of modern inputs, and has neglected research on public goods such as integrated crop management and crops that enhance diversification and sustainability of production systems.

Indeed, until recently, very little research addressed efficient use of inputs, and the balancing of external inputs use and internal sources of nutrients. Thus from a policy perspective, there is a need for public and private initiative on several fronts-increased investment in resource management, research and extension, research to develop diversified and more sustainable cropping patterns and rotations, removal of price distortions on key inputs, especially water, and special incentives to invest in inputs such as gypsum that can connecter-act the problem of poor quality tubewell water.

Such policy interventions may be rewarding if they can reverse the trend in resource degradation. However, costs of such interventions have to be considered against potential benefits, before making definite policy prescriptions.

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Guest Punjabi Nationalist

___________________________________________________________

SGPC to refer Pak Sikhs’ visa plea to Centre

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 18

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has decided to refer the request of Pakistani Sikhs to the Central Government for granting visas to those who want to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple. At least 25,000 Sikhs are living in Pakistan.

This was disclosed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, SGPC, here today. He said the SGPC, however, had urged the Pakistani Sikhs to route their applications for granting visas through their government.

Mr Tohra, who has been supporting the formation of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) since its inception in 1999, said today that the PSGPC had to be controlled exclusively by Sikhs. He said when the Waqf Board was being controlled by Muslims, why could not the control of gurdwaras be given to Sikhs.

Taking serious note of the convening of the world Sikh sammelan, proposed to be held in Chandigarh on October 26, Mr Tohra said no Sikh could ever tolerate challenging of the age-old Sikh institutions. He indicated that if Mr Gurtej Singh went ahead with the proposed Sikh sammelan, the title of Professor of Sikhism bestowed on him by the SGPC could be withdrawn as directed by Akal Takht. He cautioned that Sikh intellectuals should not cross their limits so far as Sikh institutions were concerned. He said certain Sikh intellectuals, who had been demanding separate Akal Takht secretariat, had started speaking against the institution of Akal Takht.

The SGPC chief said the institution of calling ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ was prevalent during the time of Sikh misls to resolve various issues. However, after the formation of the SGPC, there was no need to convene ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ as the members of the Shiromani committee themselves represented the entire Sikh Panth.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20031019/punjab1.htm#4

___________________________________________________________

The below article is from a Pakistani newspaper dated Friday, October 17th, 2003:

___________________________________________________________

Varsity in Nankana Sahib, Guru Nanak chair in PU soon

by EMANUEL SARFRAZ

http://www.nation.com.pk/daily/nationplus/...03/17/page5.htm

The Punjab government would establish Baba Guru Nanak University at the Nankana Sahib, which would cater to the Sikh students from all over the world. The university would provide opportunities of research and study of Sikh religion and Punjabi culture. A five star hotel would also be established at Nankana Sahib to cater to the visiting Sikh yatrees (pilgrims). A double road from Lahore to Nankana Sahib would also be constructed to ensure easy access to the holy places of Sikhs.

Rana Ijaz, Special Advisor to the Chief Minister Punjab, stated this while addressing a reception hosted in honour of the visiting Mayor of London Borough of Ealing, Gucharan Singh. World Muslim Sikh Federation’s Pakistan chapter hosted the reception arranged at a hotel in Lahore.

Rana Ijaz urged the Sikh community living abroad to visit Pakistan and also explore investment opportunities here.

“Sardars can come and invest here. We offer them all facilities in this regard. We are also ready to offer them citizenship of Pakistan. About the establishment of university and a hotel in Nankana Sahib, I have taken up the matter with the governor of Punjab and the chief minister. They have agreed to the development plan.â€

Gurchan Singh disclosed that during his meeting with the Governor and other officials of the local government he was pleased to know that World Muslim Sikh Federation’s proposal for establishing Guru Nanak chair in the Punjab University had been accepted. He appreciated the good maintenance of Sikhs’ monuments and holy places.

“Muslims and Sikhs believe in one God. There are many things that are common between the two religions. We share the same Punjabi culture. Sikh culture and monuments are well preserved in Pakistan. I see there are no security problems for Sikhs in Pakistan. More Sikhs should come and visit the holy places here.â€

Chief Organiser of Federation, Raja Riaz, spoke about the aims and objectives of the organisation and called for efforts to bringing together the Punjabis of all faiths.

He clarified that World Muslim Sikh Federation had not assigned film director Syed Noor to make any documentary for the organistion and the news appearing in a section of press were not correct. Others who spoke on the occasion included Zaigham, Jacqueline Tressler, Sarabjeet Singh and Nazar Lodhi.

___________________________________________________________

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Guest Punjabi Nationalist

nov5icev2.jpg - 56k Video - Sikh jatha leaves for Pakistan

______________________________________________

Parallel jathas by SGPC, Delhi panel leave for Pak

Tribune News Service

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20031106/punjab1.htm#3

pb1.jpg - A Sikh jatha at the Wagah joint checkpost before crossing over to Pakistan on Wednesday. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Wagah, November 5

Even as Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, Senior vice-president, SGPC, who was nominated to lead a jatha to Pakistan could not go, Dr Balkar Singh, a former head, Department of Guru Granth Sahib Studies, Patiala University, replaced him at an eleventh hour. The reason for not leading the jatha by Mr Pakhoke was said to be the forthcoming annual election of the SGPC, scheduled to be held on November 20, as he wanted re-election as senior vice-president.

While the SGPC jatha comprised 294 pilgrims, Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, a former president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), led another jatha of 82 pilgrims to Pakistan from New Delhi.

Both the jathas were given a warm welcome by the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee (PSGPC) at the Wagah joint check post by Mr Sham Singh, Co-Chairman of PSGPC, and Mr Izhar-ul-Hasan, Additional Secretary of Pakistan Evacuee Property Trust.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Sarna said that he would try to meet President Pervez Musharraf there for taking up the case of constructing a highway from Wagah to Nankana Sahib and the expenses would be borne by the DSGMC. He said the DSGMC would also offer to carry out ‘kar sewa’ of Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

Mr Sarna said that it was a matter of concern that after 54 years of Partition at least 40 historic Sikh shrines had disappeared from Pakistan. There was a dire need to save an equal number of historic gurdwaras which were in dilapidated condition and required urgent repair.

On the formation International Sikh Gurdwara Committee, Mr Sarna said that the SGPC should not lay any pre-condition for it. He, however, said that due representation should be given to the SGPC, Takht Patna Sahib, Hazur Sahib and Sikhs from abroad.

______________________________________________

SGPC seeks bus service for pilgrims to Pak

Tribune Reporters

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20031106/punjab1.htm#4

Amritsar, November 5

The SGPC in a letter to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, has urged the government to take up with Pakistan the starting of a special bus service from Amritsar to Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

Honorary secretary (SGPC) Manjit Singh Calcutta said here yesterday that the government must look after the interest of the Sikhs while offering confidence-building measures to Pakistan. He said in the 12 proposals offered by India the issue of Sikhs gurdwaras should have been included.

He said the SGPC had offered to start bus services for Sikh devotees on a regular basis. He said the issue of Sikh shrines should be taken up with Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the SGPC yesterday sought the expansion of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee by giving due representation to Takht Patna Sahib, Hazoor Sahib, Shiromani Committee and other representatives from all over the world.

In a press release issued here yesterday, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, SGPC Secretary, however, said that the office-bearers or members of the PSGPC must be baptised Sikhs.

He said that though the Government of Pakistan had accepted the long-standing demand of the SGPC for giving corridor from Dera Baba Nanak (India) to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan), yet the Government of India had not agreed to the proposal so far.

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Amarinder invites Pak’s Punjab CM

Tribune News Service

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20031224/punjab1.htm#4

Gurdaspur, December 23

The beleaguered Capt Amarinder Singh said today that he was recently taken aback when a person called on his mobile phone and identified himself as the Chief Minister of Punjab. He could not believe his ears and asked the caller to identify himself. The caller turned out to be none other than the Chief Minister of western Punjab (in Pakistan), Mr Parvez Elahi.

The Chief Minister said he had personally invited his counterpart to visit the Indian side to forge an alliance and to help the region by offering all facilities and items so that the people in both side of Punjab could prosper. Mr Elahi responded positively to his invitation and could visit Punjab soon. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, felt that there was a strong need to bring down barriers with their erstwhile province of western Punjab in Pakistan for building a strong economy on both sides of the border.

The Chief Minister said Punjab had ushered in green revolution and had made great achievements in the agriculture sector while it had done exceedingly well by setting up many small-scale units which had made the country proud. He said Punjab could offer all possible help to people across the border and make this region economically prosperous.

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Pakistanis want peace, say lawyers

A.S.Prashar

Tribune News Service

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20031228/cth1.htm#5

ct10.jpg - Members of the delegation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association, on their return from Pakistan, display packets containing the sand of Ravi, Jhelum and Chenab rivers and Lahore City at Chandigarh on Saturday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, December 27

There is a huge groundswell in Pakistan in favour of normalisation of relations, greater cooperation and closer interaction with India. And this groundswell seems to be coming from the grassroot level as well rather than from the top alone.

This is the impression gained by a 59-member lawyers’ delegation of the Punjab and Haryana Bar Association which returned here last night after a four-day visit to Lahore, Islamabad, Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib.

According to Dr Anmol Rattan Sidhu, president of the Bar association who headed the delegation, there seems to have been a seachange in the mindset of an average Pakistani vis-à-vis India in the recent times. When a Pakistani artiste, lamenting the partition of India, said at a function held in honour of the visiting Indian delegation: “Waghe diye sarhadde, kyon kite ade ade…â€, there was a loud and long round of applause from the audience.

In a talk with TNS here today, Dr Sidhu observed that Pakistanis “no longer seem to be harping on the resolution of the Kashmir issue before everything else. It is also being stressed that a solution to the vexed issue could be found through negotiations alone. The feeling of distrust and disbelief at whatever India says and does also seems to be disappearing.â€

Mr R.S. Cheema, a leading member of the delegation, said the Pakistanis “have begun to acknowledge that because of its size and power, India is legitimately trying to find its rightful place in the world politics. But they are of the view that no country could progress in isolation. The entire region has to work together to forward on the road to peace, progress and prosperity.â€

Mr Amarjit Singh Sethi, Mr N. K. Nanda and Mr Chaman Lal Sharma, members of the delegation, said a common feeling among the Pakistanis, as understood by them, was that while the people of the Indian subcontinent had waged a common struggle for Independence from the British yoke, the fruits of Independence had not reached the common man because both the countries were forced to spend huge sums of money on defence in view of the uneasy relations with each other. If relations between the two countries could improve, the expenditure on defence could be cut and the money thus saved utilised for removing poverty and improving the living standards of the people.

During its stay in Pakistan, the delegation was feted, among others, by the Governor and Chief Minister of West Punjab. Their receptions were attended by top government officials, Speaker of the Punjab assembly, all MLAs and members of the High Court Bar Association of Punjab. Chief Justice of the Pakistani Federal Court, Sheikh Riaz Ahmed, also attended a reception at Islamabad.

The Indian delegation included Mr Justice B. K. Jhanji, Chief Justice of the J & K High Court, Mr Harbhagwan Singh, Advocate-General, Punjab, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, leader of the Congress Opposition in the Haryana Assembly and Mr Shadi Lal Batra, a Haryana MLA who hails from Jhang district. Mr Batra’s visit to his village was arranged by the Chief Minister during which he was able to locate and interact with some old people who knew and remembered his forefathers. Mr Sant Ram Singla, Chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board, also accompanied the delegation and his briefings on the operations of the agricultural marketing board greatly interested the Pakistanis. As a matter of fact, the Chief Minister of West Punjab, Mr Parvez Elahi, convened a meeting of the state Cabinet for a briefing by Mr Singla.

Mr Rakesh Nagpal and Mr A.S. Brar, members of the delegation, said there seemed to be a great goodwill among the people for Indian Punjabis. Shopkeepers would either refuse to accept payments or offer hefty discounts on goods purchased by them. At the Wagah border yesterday, Pakistani porters declined to accept payment for carrying the baggage of the Indian delegates.

Mr Nagpal has brought with him to India the soil of three rivers, Ravi, Chenab and Jhelum as also the soil of Lahore city. Mr Sidhu said the soil would be mixed with the soil taken from the Sutlej and Beas and used to plant a tree in the compound of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

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