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Pak to give guard of honour to Guru Granth Sahib
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wagah, September 19
The government of Pakistan will arrange guard of honour at Wagah Joint Check Post when holy Guru Granth Sahib will be carried in gold palanquin to Nankana Sahib on October 25 .

Mr Pervez Elahi, Chief Minister West Punjab will be among the dignitaries to receive the religious procession, carrying the gold palanquin at Wagah. The procession will be flagged off from New Delhi on October 24 and reach Nankana Sahib next day after covering 700 km. This will be the longest ever procession since the Partition of the country.

This was disclosed, by Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna and Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna, president and general secretary
of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) who reached here today after finalising arrangements in Pakistan. Mr Sarna said that Mr Elahi had accepted the demand of the DSGMC chief to allow Air- Conditioned deluxe bus to cross over to Pakistan. Mr Sarna said that it was great gesture on the part of Mr Elahi to allow the bus to cross over to Pakistan’s territory. Otherwise, Indian vehicles are not allowed to enter Pakistan. He said the registration, engine and chassis number of the vehicle would be sent to for necessary formalities. Mr Sarna said that the gold palanquin would be installed at Nankana Sahib gurdwara, before the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. He said the government of Pakistan had also agreed, in principle, to give liberal visas to more than 1000 Indian devotees.

Earlier, the procession was planned for October 16 but due to pre-occupations of Mr Elahi, the date has been extended for a week as he (Mr Elahi) was keen on receiving the procession.

Meanwhile, the Sarna brothers visited Ber Sahib gurdwara, in Sialkot. This was the first visit of any Sikh to this gurdwara after partition. They said though major part of the gurdwara structure was in tact, yet the land adjoining the Sikh shrine had been encroached on.

The Sarna brothers said that they had requested the Chairman of Pakistan Evacuee Property Trust Board to open this gurdwara to Sikh Sangat so that ‘kar seva’ could be started. The structure of the dome of the gurdwara is seemed to be five century old, they said.


Nankana Sahib-Amritsar bus service likely to be delayed
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19
The Sikh devotees planning to visit Nankana Sahib from Amritsar by bus would have to wait for some more time as the Indo-Pakistan technical-level talks beginning later this month is unlikely to ink an agreement on this front as Islamabad wants to go into different modalities before starting the service.

The technical-level talks between New Delhi and Islamabad is scheduled in the Capital from September 27 and 28.

Pakistan has informed the Indian Government that “the modalities and infrastructure facilities for the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service would have to be looked into before an agreement could be reached on it.”

However, during the technical meeting on the proposed bus service, Pakistan said, “it was only in a position to discuss the Amritsar-Lahore bus service.”

Indian External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh, however, said New Delhi would raise the starting of both Amritsar-Nankana bus service and Amritsar-Lahore bus service with Islamabad during the technical-level meeting.

“We have already impressed upon Pakistan the importance attached by us to a bus service to Nankana Sahib and we will continue to work towards its early operationalisation,” he said in a letter to National Minorities Commission chairperson Tarlochan Singh.

Natwar Singh recalled that both South Asian neighbours had reached an agreement in February to start a bus service between Amritsar and Lahore, including religious places like Nankana Sahib. And, the decision was reiterated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf during the latter’s visit to India in April this year.

The starting of a bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib was made along the bus service to Srinagar and Muzaffarabad.

“We are unable to understand the hitch when all facilities are existing on both sides of Wagah border. In every Indo-Pak meeting, new bus routes are announced, but there is no mention about the fate of the bus to start from Amritsar,” Tarlochan Singh said in a letter to External Affairs Minister.

He said the existing bus service from Delhi to Lahore and back does not allow anyone to get down in Punjab, and there is no benefit of this to the people of the state. Secondly, the Samjhauta Express train between Lahore and Attari is also of no advantage to Punjab as all passengers who travel on this train from Pakistan are not allowed to go to Amritsar or any part of Punjab.

Even if they have visa for Punjab, he said, they are allowed to go to Malerkotla only, after first coming to Delhi.

The meeting of Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan, held recently in Islamabad, agreed to hold a technical-level meeting as soon as possible on the early commencement of the Poonch-Rawaalkot bus service and a truck service for trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route.

The next round of composite dialogue meeting would be held between January and July 2006 and all technical-level meetings would be concluded by April 2006, said the statement issued after the Foreign Secretary-level talks.

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