4,000 Sikh pilgrims arrive from India LAHORE AT least 4,000 Indian pilgrims, wearing colourful turbans and with smiling faces, arrived at Wagah Station to take part in the ceremony being held in connection with the 470th death anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Narowal. The Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) and the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) welcomed them at Wagah Station. Tonnes of petals were showered on them amidst drum beats and dancing horses especially arranged for their warm reception. The pilgrims were entertained with a hearty lunch and drinks by Syed Asif Hashami, chairman of the ETPB. Speaking at the Wagah Railway Station after arriving from India, the leader and senior member of Sharmini Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee, Sardar Ameerit Singh Wachaoo, said that after Maharaja Ranjeet Singh it was Syed Asif Hashami who had taken care of the sacred places of Sikhs in Pakistan and the Sikh community had no enough words to thank him. He said the services Asif Hashami rendered for Sikhs were unparallel and he was respected by the Sikhs all over the world. He thanked Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani for appointing such a devoted person as chairman of ETPB. Former Indian parliamentarian Sardar Guldeep Singh Wandala said that he was overjoyed at the reception they received at Wagha and wanted peace in the region. He said that he was happy over the security arrangements for the Sikh devotees and was thankful for the free residence, medical and transport facilities provided to them. He said, “We have not seen such good arrangements in the last 60 years.” Sardar Balvinder Singh said that Asif Hashami had a lot of respect and love for the Sikh community and the Sikhs respect him a lot. Dr Pertapal Singh, who has come from America, said that Asif Hashami had been able to successfully assembly people of two different religions in a befitting manner which was a big achievement. Sardar Sham Singh, Sardar Bishen Singh, Sardar Soren Singh and many others also spoke. The pilgrims hoped that the governments of India and Pakistan would work to bring harmony and peace in the region while resolving all the disputes amicably. They said that visa restrictions should not be removed but they should be eased as regulations were also necessary to foil nefarious designs of those hidden elements that had been trying to disrupt peace efforts between two countries. They said economic and cultural ties should be promoted in the region. They also stressed resolution of all contentious issues including Kashmir issue. They said both the governments should release prisoners languishing in jails of each other’s countries. They thanked the Pakistani government for providing them with first-class facilities at Wagah Station. Speaking on the occasion, ETPB Chairman Asif Hashami said that Guru Nanak spread peace and love in this region and Mian Mir, Bhullay Shah and others spread the same message to make this region an area of peace. He said, “More Sikhs should come to Pakistan and give us an opportunity to show hospitality towards them and when they return, their hearts should be filled with appreciation of our country.” Asif Hashami said that the President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani had issued special instructions for the wellbeing of the visiting Sikh pilgrims. The visiting Indian pilgrims would visit various sacred places during their stay in Punjab. All the departments were working in collaboration and they have set up their counters separately to facilitate the pilgrims.