No of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion from In­dia or Pak­istan

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES NA­TION -

Sikh his­tory says that af­ter com­plet­ing his fa­mous four jour­neys, Guru Nanak came and set­tled down in Kar­tarpur Sahib in1522, where he lived a sim­ple life till­ing fields for the last 17 years of his life on earth. Later, a gur­d­wara was con­structed there. Baljin­der Kaur, a pil­grim from Pa­tiala, says that ev­ery Sikh in their daily ar­das (prayer) seeks un­hin­dered ac­cess to Nankana Sahib and other gur­d­waras in Pak­istan. “Hope­fully, our prayers will be heard soon,” she says.

Jag­tar Singh, vice-pres­i­dent of Gur­d­wara Guru An­gad Dev Ji in Salzburg, Aus­tria, says he has been com­ing for dar­shan to for the past 11 years. “A pil­grim cor­ri­dor will be a mile­stone in forg­ing cor­dial re­la­tions be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan,” he adds.

So far though, there has been no of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion from ei­ther Pak­istan or In­dia. But the re­cent visit of the Indi- an high com­mis­sioner, Ajay Bis­aria, to Kar­tarpur Sahib is be­ing con­sid­ered a sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment. The ear­lier gov­ern­ment had pre­vented Bis­aria from vis­it­ing Gur­d­wara Panja Sahib near Rawalpindi on two oc­ca­sions. Pun­jab min­is­ter Navjot Singh Sidhu had said last month that Pak­istan’s army chief, Gen Qa­mar Javed Ba­jwa, had as­sured him of plans to open the route to the gu­rud­wara for Guru Nanak’s 550th birth an­niver­sary next year. Last week Pak­istan’s in­for­ma­tion min­is­ter Fawad Ah­mad Chaudhry stated that the Im­ran Khan gov­ern­ment was plan­ning to al­low “visa-free di­rect ac­cess” to Kar­tarpur Sahib for In­dian Sikh pil­grims.

In 1999, then Pak­istan pres­i­dent Pervez Mushar­raf had of­fered to al­low In­dian Sikhs to visit Kar­tarpur Sahib from Dera Baba Nanak with­out pass­port and visa. Noth­ing came of it. A decade later, on Oc­to­ber 1, 2010, the Pun­jab as­sem­bly passed a res­o­lu­tion ask­ing the Union gov­ern­ment to take up the is­sue with the Pak­istan gov­ern­ment.

Ra­jya Sabha MP from Gur­daspur, Par­tap Singh Ba­jwa, had even floated the idea of swap­ping un­in­hab­ited land in Gur­daspur dis­trict with Kar­tarpur Sahib land in Pak­istan.

In 2010, the US-based In­sti­tute of Multi Track Diplo­macy had pre­pared a fea­si­bil­ity re­port on ‘Kar­tarpur Marg’, sub­mit­ting it to the In­dian and Pak­istani am­bas­sadors in Wash­ing­ton DC.

Mean­while, the Shi­ro­mani Gur­d­wara Pra­band­hak Com­mit­tee has of­fered to con­struct the cor­ri­dor on its own if both govern­ments agree.

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