United Nations, Feb 18 (IANS) UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that his visit to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartapur was a “very emotional moment.”
After his visit to the shrine in Pakistan on Tuesday, he said: “I’m a Christian but I feel very much at home when I am in a Sikh shrine and where I can pray to God here together with the Sikh community.”
He also paid tributes to the Sikh community for their global contributions.
Guru Nanak Dev, whose 550th birth anniversary is being celebrated currently, established the first Sikh community in Kartarpur in 1504 on the bank of the River Ravi.
According to the transcript of his comments to reporters there that was released by his spokesperson’s office, Guterres said: “When we see so many parts of the world fighting in the name of religion, it’s necessary to say that religions unite us for peace and the best symbol is this shrine.”
He added, “It is wonderful to see interfaith dialogue. It is wonderful to see in the same shrine today Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, maybe Hindus — all worshipping in harmony and in peace.”
Many Hindus, in fact, honour Guru Nanak and in many Hindu communities he is honoured alongside Hindu manifestations of deity and holy persons in shrines, unlike in certain other religions.
Pakistan and India set up the Kartarpur Corridor last year connecting Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur in India with Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, 4.7 km inside Pakistan, permitting Indian pilgrims to travel there without visas.
Recalling his visit to the Golden Temple in 2018, Guterres said: “I’ve been in Amritsar, today I’m here, to pay tribute to the contribution of the Sikh community all over the world for our planet.”
“This is the best symbol that we can give for a world in peace and for a world in which there is mutual respect and there is the acceptance of what is different – recognizing that diversity is a blessing, is a richness, not a threat,” he said.
Guterres is on a visit to Pakistan to participate in the 40th anniversary of Pakistan hosting Afghan refugees.
He met Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday and a readout from his spokesperson’s office said that they discussed regional issues including Kashmir.
The statement said: “He (Guterres) continues to follow the situation in Jammu and Kashmir with concern and appeals for maximum restraint and full respect for human rights. The Secretary General reiterated his readiness to exercise his good offices if both sides agree.”
(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)