Close on the heels of the controversy triggered by former Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Yousaf who condemned Ace Pacer Shoaib Akhtar for his comments regarding discrimination against minorities in Pakistan, Nankana Sahib Gurdwara, one of the holiest Sikh shrines, located some 60-odd km from Lahore in Pakistan, came under attack from a mob on Friday.
Shoaib alleged mistreatment of minorities in Pakistan citing example of former spinner Danish Kaneria who seconded his opinion only to draw flak from Yousaf who made a categorical denial. The exchange sparked a furious reaction from Twitterati who reminded Yousaf of his days prior to converting his religion. Mohammad Yousaf, previously Yousuf Yohanna was one of the few Christians to play for the Pakistan national cricket team.
Meanwhile, India strongly condemned vandalism at the revered Nankana Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan on Friday and called upon Pakistan to take immediate steps to ensure the safety and security of local Sikh community.
In a statement the ministry of external affairs said: “New Delhi called on the government of Pakistan to ensure the safety and security of pilgrims who regularly visit the shrine that marks the birthplace of the founder of Sikhism. It also demanded strong action against the perpetrators of violence and vandalism.”
“We are concerned at the vandalism carried out at the revered Nankana Sahib Gurdwara today. Members of the minority Sikh community have been subjected to acts of violence in the holy city of Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Shri Guru Nanak Dev,” the statement said.
“India strongly condemns these wanton acts of destruction and desecration of the holy place. We call upon the Government of Pakistan to take immediate steps to ensure the safety, security, and welfare of the members of the Sikh community,” the statement said.
“Strong action must be taken against the miscreants who indulged in desecration of the holy Gurudwara and attacked members of the minority Sikh community. In addition, Government of Pakistan is enjoined to take all measures to protect and preserve the sanctity of the holy Nankana Sahib Gurudwara and its surroundings,” it said.
Small groups of Indian Sikh and other pilgrims travel to Pakistan many times during a year to visit shrines there while Pakistani pilgrims visit India on a regular basis to worship at religious sites in India. While Nankana Sahib is a major pilgrimage centre for Sikhs, Pakistani pilgrims visit Ajmer Sharif in India.
In November, the two countries opened a land crossing to allow Indian pilgrims to visit a shrine in Pakistan’s Narowal district where Guru Nanak had spent the last years of his life. This happened despite high levels of tension between the two countries first due to the indian aerial strike against a terrorist training camp in Balakot and later following India revoking the special status bestowed on Kashmir under a temporary provision of its constitution.