LONDON: The founder of banned separatist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who resides in New York, held a meeting at the Lahore press club where he unveiled his latest map of Khalistan, with Shimla as the capital, and announced dates for a “Punjab independence referendum” in India.
Pannun, an Indian-origin lawyer who is wanted in India for secessionist activities, told Pakistani journalists at Lahore Press Club that the so-called “Punjab independence referendum”, which is illegal in India and not recognised by the Indian government, will be held in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh from January 26, 2023 to coincide with Republic Day. Many SFJ activists have been arrested in Punjab for sedition for promoting the referendum. The unofficial referendum began in London on October 31, 2021 and has also been held in Italy and Switzerland.
Pannun, the general counsel to SFJ, urged Pakistan prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to “extend diplomatic support to the democratic initiative of Khalistan Referendum and seize the opportunity of having a new and friendly neighbour – Khalistan — on the eastern front of Pakistan… Once liberated, Khalistan, in collaboration with Pakistan, will shift the balance of power in South Asia and bring much needed stability, peace and prosperity to this region (sic),” Pannun claimed.
SFJ’s so-called map encompasses areas of pre-1966 Punjab, which include Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Sikh-majority areas in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Pannun claimed to the Pakistani media that Shimla would be the “future capital of a Sikh homeland, Khalistan”.

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