UN chief visits Kartarpur Corridor, terms it 'symbol of peace'

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (C) pays his respects during a visit to the Sikh Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in the Pakistani town of Kartarpur, near the Indian border on Feb. 18, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 18 February 2020

UN chief visits Kartarpur Corridor, terms it 'symbol of peace'

  • Guterres says the visit pays tribute to the contribution of Sikh community all over the world
  • He arrived in Pakistan to attend a UN summit on Afghan refugees

ISLAMABAD: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday visited Pakistan’s flagship interfaith initiative, the Kartarpur Corridor, and paid homage to Guru Nanak who founded Sikhism five centuries ago.
“This is the best symbol that we can give for a world in peace and for a world (where) there is mutual respect and acceptance of what is different,” the UN Chief said while addressing a pool of journalists and officials.
Opened last year, the four-kilometer Kartarpur Corridor connects the Sikh shrine of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in India’s Punjab region to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan. It allows Sikhs to visit the shrine in Pakistan without a visa. Some 5,000 Indian Sikhs have been allowed access daily.
“Recognizing the diversity is a blessing, is a richness not a threat which we see in so many parts of the world fighting in the name of religion. It is necessary to say that religions unite us for peace and the best symbol is this shrine,” Guterres said, adding that his visit was “to pay tribute to the contribution of the Sikh community all over the world for our planet.”
Guterres was given a tour of the gurdwara complex by a team of government officials led by Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri.
The UN Chief arrived in Islamabad on Sunday as part of his four-day visit to the country to attend an international conference on Afghan refugees, held to mark four decades since Pakistan started hosting displaced persons escaping conflict plaguing neighboring Afghanistan.


Court grants Shahbaz Sharif pre-arrest bail in assets beyond means case

Updated 03 June 2020

Court grants Shahbaz Sharif pre-arrest bail in assets beyond means case

  • The country’s anti-graft watchdog raided his house on Tuesday to arrest him
  • Sharif’s party leaders maintain the government is trying to politically victimize the opposition

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday granted pre-arrest bail till June 17 to Punjab’s former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif in assets beyond means case that is being investigated by the country’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The court’s division bench, headed by Justice Tariq Abbasi, heard the petition to stop the country’s anti-graft agency from making the arrest since Sharif was cooperating with the investigators.
“The court has accepted the pre-arrest bail plea of Mian Shahbaz Sharif and has restrained NAB from his arrest till June 17, 2020. The court asked the petitioner to furnish a bail bound worth half a million rupees,” Sharif’s lawyer, Azam Nazir Tarar, told Arab News after the proceedings.
The country’s anti-corruption body is investigating a matter related to the possession of assets beyond the politician’s stated means of income and alleged money laundering charges.
NAB summoned Sharif, who is also the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly of Pakistan, for investigation on June 2, but he did not appear before the authorities and sent a letter wherein he said that he was 69 years old and a cancer survivor and did not want to talk undue health risks during the time of coronavirus pandemic.
Sharif also requested the NAB authorities to interview him on Skype and sent a written reply to the questionnaire sent by the investigation agency through its representative.
NAB did not accept the plea and issued Sharif’s arrest warrants. A NAB team also reached his Model Town residence in Lahore on Tuesday to take him into custody, spending about 90 minutes to detain him, but it later returned to its office since the former Punjab chief minister was not found at his home.
Sharif had already filed a pre-arrest bail plea at the Lahore High Court which was fixed for a hearing on Wednesday. His lawyers submitted that NAB had been leveling allegations against their client for the last 16 months but the agency had failed to file any reference against him.
They also claimed that the proceedings of the NAB case were based on mala fide intention since the agency had summoned Sharif on June 2 while his arrest warrants had been issued on May 28.
NAB prosecutor pleaded that the anti-graft watchdog had sufficient evidence against the leader of the opposition to arrest him since he was involved in money laundering and possessing assets beyond his stated means of income. He also argued that the court had previously rejected the bail plea of Hamza Shahbaz, Sharif’s son, and two other accused in a similar case.
The court granted pre-arrest bail to Sharif till the 17th of this month, instructing him to cooperate with the agency in its investigations.
“The authorities have issued arrest warrant of Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif in the assets beyond means case. The court has granted him pre-arrest bail and told the accused to cooperate with NAB. The agency will also honor the court order,” a NAB official told Arab News.
Leaders of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) reacted strongly to the development, blaming the government for politically victimizing the opposition.
“The PML-N is ready for accountability. NAB should file references against us in courts instead of arresting us. We are ready to face any charges, but the government has nothing solid against us and is using unethical tactics. It has adopted a vindictive approach,” former PML-N prime minister Shahid Khan Abbasi told Arab News.