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'If anti-India elements enter India from Kartarpur, Pakistan can't be blamed': Pakistan Punjab governor

Chaudhary Sarwar (extreme right) welcoming the 'paalki' (palanquin) along with the 'nagar kirtan' from India at the Wagah-Attari border on October 31.

Celebrations of Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary began on Thursday at the Wagah-Attari border, ahead of the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9 and the main event on November 12 at Nankana Sahib.

Ahead of the grand 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak in Pakistan, the governor of Punjab said that religious tourism can be the solution to bettering India-Pakistan relations that have been strained for years now. 

Speaking exclusively to SBS Punjabi from Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province, Chaudhary Sarwar, the Governor of Punjab recounted the steps Pakistan has taken so far in the direction of the grand celebrations slotted for later this month in Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak, the first guru of the Sikhs.

Guru Nanak's birth anniversary falls on November 12 this year, which will see a celebratory mammoth event at his birthplace, Nankana Sahib, nearly 80 km from Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province, and around 120 km from Amritsar, home to the Golden Temple, the  highest seat in the Sikh faith which lies just across the border in the Indian state of Punjab. 

Being the head of the Religious Affairs and Heritage Committee constituted by PM Khan to oversee religious events like this, Governor Sarwar is the key person in the planning, execution and funding of this grand gurpurab (birth celebration of a Sikh Guru).

"In Pakistan, we genuinely hold Guru Nanak in very high regard and believe he was a great personality. Therefore, the celebrations of his landmark birth year have to be grand. Prime Minister Imran Khan has laid the foundation stone of Baba Guru Nanak University in Nankana Sahib, a new Rs 50 commemorative coin has been issued on this occasion, the accommodation capacity of Gurdwara Janam Asthan has been enhanced and we have also converted a nearby college into a rest house for the pilgrims who'll come to celebrate the occasion from all over the world," said Governor Sarwar.

He inaugurated the celebrations yesterday as he welcomed the nagar kirtan (religious procession) that entered Pakistan from India via the Wagah-Attari border. 

Governor Sarwar believes that the solution to improving the vexed relationship between India and Pakistan might lie in religious tourism such as the Kartapur Corridor. 

But when asked for his views on suspicion in certain quarters that anti-India elements could exploit the corridor, Governor Sarwar solely laid the responsibility at India's door. 

"The entry, exit and immigration will entirely be under India's control. So if any unwanted element manages to escape into India, they can't blame anyone else but themselves," said Governor Sarwar who calls this suspicion "propaganda" to malign the Kartarpur Corridor which will be inaugurated on November 9.

To listen to this interview in Punjabi, click on the player at the top of the page.

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