Sikh tycoon announces £500m fund for Pakistani Gurdwaras
LONDON: A leading British Sikh philanthropist has announced a £500m injection into Pakistani Gurdwaras in response to the Pakistani government’s decision to create the Kartarpur corridor to facilitate Sikhs from around the world entering Pakistan to visit their holiest places.
Peter Verdi made the announcement here at a joint press conference with Zulfi Bukhari, Chairman of the Pakistan Tourism Board and Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, a key member of the Sikh community. Representatives also joined the meeting. The event is organised by Central Gudwala (Khalsa Jatha) and supported by business magnate Peter Virdee. Zulfi Bukhari was the main guest at the event.
Peter Virdee made a huge financial commitment by announcing the establishment of a trust fund in the name of Guru Nanak Ji, which will have representatives of Sikh saints from around the world.
In an interview with this reporter, the Sikh businessman announced that his own charity, the Peter Verdi Foundation, will join forces with other Sikh groups to inject £500 million into Pakistan to renovate and renovate hundreds of Gurdwaras. Modernization, which will boost the local economy.
The Virdee Foundation with various donors/sewadars recently completed the complete renovation and restoration of Central Gurdwara Khalsa Jatha (the oldest Gurdwara outside India) as it is in a dilapidated state.
After 1 year, the Virdee Foundation reopened Gurdwara to the public in December 2017, restoring Gurdwara to its original glory for the Sikh community.
He told the newspaper: “Leading Sikh businesses, organisations and Gurdwaras have discussed this and we are committing £500m at this stage. This is just a drop in the ocean. We will do more. This is just the beginning and we want to Tell the Pakistani government that you did a great job opening the Kartarpur corridor. Now let the Sikhs respond with our love for the Holy Land.”
Peter Verdi said Sikhs were overjoyed when the hallway opening was announced after the six-year-old wish of Sikhs to visit Katarpur was denied.
Buhari, who is also special assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, added: “We really want the Sikh community in the world to contribute. This is a very special year and it is Guru Nanaksahi Bu’s 550th birthday, and as Pakistanis, we want to celebrate it in a well-designed way. Not only do we want it to be a national event, but we want it to be covered globally. I want you to be involved Among other things, organize seminars, exhibitions and conferences around it to build the hype the occasion deserves.”
Zulfi Bukhari thanked the Sikh community for announcing huge financial commitments and promised a series of measures to promote religious tourism in Pakistan. Buhari said he would ensure religious tourists get visas immediately.
He announced that he would speak to the Pakistan High Commission in London and elsewhere to secure a tourist desk at the Pakistani embassy with dedicated staff to provide visas for those who attend Yatras in Pakistan later this year.
Buhari said: “Pakistan used to be less open to religious tourism than it is today… Now we are reaching out to communities around the world by asking them to come to Pakistan, visit their places and see what they can do. We will Stand shoulder to shoulder and facilitate you in every way. A railway station is being built in the name of Baba Guru Nanak. We are building a special tunnel from dargah in Guru Nanak Sahib to Gurdwara Janam Asthan, and to another A Gurdwara underground railway. We are building this connection so you will have no problems when you come to the pilgrimage. All major Gurdwaras will also have a free shuttle service.”
Pakistan wants the Sikh community in the world to contribute, Buhari said. “This is a very special year, the 550th birthday of Guru Nanaksahib, and as Pakistanis, we want to celebrate it in a well-designed way. We don’t just want it to be a national event , and we want it to be covered globally. I want you to get involved and organize workshops, exhibitions and conferences around it to build the hype the occasion deserves.”
Sikh organisations, MPs and Gudwara present at the event included Preet Kaur Gill MP, Labour MP, the first Sikh MP; Khalid Mahmood MP, Labour MP; Lord Rajender Paul Luma; Ranbir Singh Lord Suri, Conservative MP, House of Lords, born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan; Neena Kaur Gill MEP, influential member of the European Council on Foreign Affairs; Dabinderjit Singh, Chief Adviser to the Sikh Federation, the most senior Sikh civil servant in the UK; Amrik Singh Gill, President, British Sikh Federation; Retired Justice Anup Singh Chowdhury; Mandeep Singh Kakar; Philanthropist and leading businessman; Manvir Singh Bhogal, Sikh Network Board Member and Sikh Council Assistant Treasurer; and Baba Charandas, a direct descendant of Sri Chand, the eldest son of Guru Nanakji.
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