Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday laid the foundation stone of a university to be set up in Nankana Sahib, named Baba Guru Nanak University after the founder of the Sikh religion.

Nankana is the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak, and the announcement came just ahead of his 550th birth anniversary due next month. Guru Nanak is widely respected in Pakistan, a Muslim majority country. Hundreds of thousands of Sikh pilgrims travel to the country each year from around the world to pay homage to Guru Nanak and visit various sites spread across the country attributed to him and his life.

The university announcement follows a recent agreement between Pakistan and India for opening the Kartarpur Corridor, a key border crossing meant to facilitate Sikh pilgrims’ visa-free visits to Pakistan for pilgrimages. The corridor would allow Sikh pilgrims visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Narowal without official approvals like visas.

At the university inauguration ceremony, PM Khan said setting up an educational institution was the best way to pay homage to Baba Guru Nanak, adding that education was key to the nations’ success.

Punjabi Sikh President Sanghat Gopal Singh Chawla hailed the PM for the initiative. “The establishment of a university in an underprivileged area indicates government’s education-friendly policies,” Sing said, adding that minorities in Pakistan lived in complete harmony and peace

Punjab Assembly Member Mahinder Pal Singh also praised the decision, saying Imran Khan’s government was taking concrete steps to facilitate Sikh community. “Baba Guru Nanak University is a great initiative to give education access to minorities and the underprivileged people,” he added.

In a separate statement, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah revealed that the baba Guru Nanak University would be the first to focus on Punjabi and Khalsa languages. The minister said the institute would be provided latest facilities that would make it the premier example of interfaith harmony, cultural development and professional training.

By Emanuel Sarfraz, & Intasab Sahi

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