Pakistan backs India's Sikh separatists as Kashmir tensions rise

Kaswar Klasra | Aug 28, 2019 | 4 min read



ISLAMABAD: The Sikh’s demand for a separate state, Khalistan has attained momentum once again, which otherwise had almost died after Operation Blue Star. Following Indian move to scrap special status to Kashmir, Sikhs across globe are pinning hopes on Pakistan for help in their movement for a separate state - Khalistan.

Sources privy to the latest developments told 10Reporters that Gopal Singh Chawla, Pakistan based pro-Khalistan leader is the driving force behind re-emergence of ‘Khalistan movement’ which is currently at initial stage.

Gopal has been working on bringing influential Sikh personalities around the globe on a same page convincing them to regroup to kick off a powerful campaign for a separate homeland—Khalistan. His efforts are apparently bearing fruit as world’s prominent and influential Sikh leaders including philanthropists ,businessmen and activists have agreed to attend a International Sikh Conference to be held on August 31, 2019.

The conference, a brainchild of Gopal Singh, isn’t possible without the backing of government of Pakistan. The conference which has raised several eyebrows in neighboring India, will be kicked off in Lahore where about 200 influential Sikh figures around the globe will converge.

Pakistan has already issued visas to them and arrangements in Pakistan have been finalized. Pakistani officials confirmed to 101Reporters that conference is being held , however, denied the allegations of conference’s connection with any movement connected to Khalistan.

“Conference is being held in Lahore as a part of ‘Religious Tourism’ . The Religious Tourism and Heritage Committee headed by Pakistan’s Punjab Governor Mr. Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar,” a senior official of federal government told 101Reporters.

Apart from holding ‘international Sikh Conference’, Pakistan is planning to provide huge number of visas to Sikh community ling across globe including India, to attend 550th Birthday of Guru Nanak- most revered Sikh personality buried in Pakistan.

Governor of Pakistan’s Punjab held special meeting with Brig ® Ijaz Shah, federal Minister for Interior, to request him to make special arrangements for provision of visas to Sikh community wising to attend birthday 550th birthday celebration of founder of Sikh religion, in November this year in Pakistan.

According to Information gathered by this correspondent, Pakistan has sets up special desks at its missions abroad to help Sikhs wishing to travel to Pakistan for pilgrimage. 

Speaking to this correspondent over telephone, Chaudhary Sarwar , the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province confirmed that special arrangements were being done for the Sikh pilgrimage.

“Pakistan can earn $4 to $5 billion annually through religious tourism. We are working on it,” he told 101reporters.

Gopal Singh, is the brain behind pushing Pakistan to hold Sikh conference which will be kicked off in Lahore where about 200 influential Sikhs around the globe will gather on August 31 to September.

He has been one of a few Sikh leaders who advocated Pakistan’s government to announce opening of ‘Kartarpur Crossing’ at India-Pakistan International border allowing Indian Sikhs to visit the Kartarpur shrine in Pakistan where Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, spent his final days, and is highly revered by the Sikh community.  This iconic shrine is about 4 km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur, India.

Earlier this year, Pakistan agreed in-principle to allow visa-free, year-long travel for Indian passport holders and OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card holders to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara which speaks volume about Gopal Singh’s influence in Pakistani government.

India sees Gopal Singh and his associates as a threat as it believes they are covertly working for a separate homeland for Sikhs---Khalistan.

Gopal Singh Chawla was also a member of the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) which deals with India on Kartarpur Corridor. His name was dropped following objection from India moments ahead of Pakistan-India meeting on Kartarpur corridor held in July this year.

Experts in India say if India fails to act, it might lead to insurgency as Pakistan would not leave this opportunity to create disturbance.

According to a dossier, India handed over Pakistan last month in July , India accused pro-Khalistan groups of using gurdwaras in Pakistan to promote anti-India activities. India handed over 23-page dossier to Pakistan during Kartarpur corridor talks held on July 14.

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