Pakistan’s chief military spokesperson has debunked a claim by an Indian journalist that fewer pilgrims travelled to the gurdwara of Kartarpur Sahib on Saturday owing to minor altercation in Nankana Sahib, Punjab.
“How far and low one should go to spread lies and keep losing credibility?,” Major General Asif Ghafoor said in a quote tweet over a post by Aditya Raj Kaul.
“Today on 4 Jan, 572 Pilgrims visited Kartarpura Sahib,” he added. “Want to challenge? Check at own side or anyone can come to see the record at Pakistani entry point. Welcome.”
Kaul had said that according to his sources in New Delhi, out of 737 Indian pilgrims cleared to travel to Pakistan, only 150 had crossed the border.
“Clearly a fallout of attack on Sikh holy shrine Nankana Sahib,” he wrote.
According to Pakistan’s Foreign Office, there was a scuffle in the Punjab city between two Muslim groups, and those involved were in custody.
“Attempts to paint this incident as a communal issue are patently motivated,” it said in a statement, adding that the Gurdwara remained untouched and undamaged.
“All insinuations to the contrary, particularly the claims of acts of ‘desecration and destruction’ and desecration of the holy place, are not only false but also mischievous.”
Pakistan, it added, remains committed to upholding law and order and providing security and protection to the people, especially the minorities.
“The opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor is a manifestation of Pakistan’s special care extended to the minorities, in line with the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the communiqué concluded.
Sikhs form a small community in Pakistan, most of whom live in Punjab, and parts of Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Janam Asthan Nankana Sahib draws millions of Sikh followers from all over the world. The gurdwara was built on the birth site of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
Other important gurdwaras include Dera Sahib in Lahore and Punja Sahib in Hassan Abdal, where Sikh devotees from across the globe visit and perform religious rituals.
Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated earlier this year the historic Kartarpur corridor, for the followers of Guru Nanak, allowing them to visit the revered guru’s final resting place without a visa.