No official confirmation from India or Pakistan
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.