Sikhs ask Pak to fulfil promise of setting up Guru Nanak Varsity

The pilgrims told the media they would press the government to set a deadline for the inauguration of the Guru Nanak University.

Officials of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), which manages the shrines of minority communities, and even federal ministers have told Sikh pilgrims over the past two years that the Prime Minister would lay the foundation stone for the university. However, no action has been taken so far to start work on the varsity.

"This time we will tell (the ETPB chairman) that if the government wants to win the hearts of Sikhs around the world, then he should announce the date for the groundbreaking ceremony," Sardar Swinder Singh Doblia, a leader of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune newspaper.

Sardar Bishon Singh, former president of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, said "Sikh 'sangats' from across the world have assured the government of Pakistan that the cost of the university will be borne by the Sikh community. I cannot understand why the process is lingering on like this."

According to the ETPB, former premier Shaukat Aziz had announced on June 15, 2006 that the government would build the Guru Nanak University.

The ETPB then allocated 360 acres for the varsity.In 2007, in a meeting with the Sikh leaders, government officials said the allocation of land for the university had been increased to 2,500 acres.

ETPB Chairman Asif Hashmi set up a project management unit for the university in December 2008 and appointed officials to work for it last year.

The federal government approved Rs 50 million for the project management unit but has not yet approved Rs 75 million for a feasibility study.

ETPB Additional Secretary Syed Zahid Hussain Bukhari said construction work would start once the approval is received from the government but he did not know when this would be done.

Doblia said the SGPC had told the government last year that it had set aside a lot of money for the construction of the university.Bishon Singh said the university would initially offer courses in languages like Gurmukhi and social sciences before starting natural science programmes.

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