Sikhs plan seminary in Pakistan

Chandigarh, India - An Indian Sikh religious committee plans to build a seminary and a pilgrim centre in the Pakistani township of Nankana Sahib.

The town is the birthplace of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev. A Sikh shrine already exists there.

An official of the committee says the seminary will help train Sikh priests and religious singers in Pakistan.

The committee is awaiting official clearance for the project from the Pakistan government.

Code of conduct

The religious committee that administers all historical Sikh shrines in northern India, the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee or SGPC, took the decision to build the "Sikh missionary college" at Nankana Sahib at a meeting in Amritsar.

An SGPC official said the main objective was to adequately restore the Sikh religious code of conduct in Pakistan-based Sikh shrines.

The pilgrim centre planned at Nankana Sahib is aimed at facilitating the journey of thousands of Indian Sikhs who visit the shrine of Guru Nanak Dev every year.

The SGPC's initiatives, announced days ahead of the 15 November anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev's birth, are significant.

If approved, this will be the first SGPC venture aimed at spreading its religious activities into Pakistan.

More than 100 students attacked the shrine at Nankana Sahib two years ago to protest at the conversion of a college building at the site into a residential hall for Sikh pilgrims.

Pakistani officials said the incident was the result of a minor misunderstanding.

They said the safety of the shrine had not been endangered.

The shrine is looked after by the Pakistan Evacuee Properties Trust, which is responsible for most shrines of religious minorities in Pakistan.