Islamabad, March 1
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has appointed Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora as the Ambassador-at-Large for Kartarpur Corridor as part of efforts to attract Sikh pilgrims from across the world, a government notification said on Wednesday.
The leading Sikh leader will work in the position in an honorary capacity, the notification said.
Arora hailing from Kartarpur in Narowal is also the central general secretary of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) minorities wing. His family has been associated with the protection and welfare of the Sikh holy sites at Kartarpur.
His appointment comes as Kartarpur failed to attract the number of visitors Pakistan authorities had imagined after opening the critical holy site for Sikhs, especially those in India.
The Kartarpur corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in the Gurdaspur district in India’s Punjab state. The 4 km-long corridor provides visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the Darbar Sahib.
In November 2019, Prime Minister Khan formally inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor as part of the commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak at a colourful ceremony, paving the way for Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit one of their religion’s holiest sites in Pakistan without needing a visa.
Arora, 48, was elected as a member of the provincial assembly of Punjab for the second consecutive term in 2020, according to his profile on the website of the Punjab Assembly.
In his first tenure during 2013-18, he was the first parliamentarian in Punjab Assembly who came from the Sikh community since 1947.
Arora functioned as the chairman of the Standing Committee on Commerce and Investment during 2014-17; and as chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Minorities Affairs during 2017-18.
He played a prominent role in enacting “The Punjab Sikh Anand Karaj Marriage Act 2018”, making Pakistan the first country where Sikh Marriages Registration Act is enforced, according to his profile.
He also served as a member of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) in the Government of Punjab; a member of the National Commission for Minorities under the Ministry of National Harmony during 2011-13; and as general secretary of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee during 2009-13.
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