In­dia, Pak­istan get an­other chance at peace along Kar­tarpur Cor­ri­dor HIS­TORIC LINK OPENS TO­DAY

Novem­ber 9 is a his­toric moment for In­dian Sikhs as it will be the first time since the par­ti­tion in 1947 that they will be able to visit one of their holi­est sites in Pak­istan with­out visa

Khaleej Times - - FRONT PAGE - Sha­hab Jafry

Pak­istan fi­nally rolls out the red car­pet at Kar­tarpur to­day as mem­bers of the Sikh com­mu­nity from across the world, es­pe­cially In­dia, gather for the his­toric 550th birth­day cel­e­bra­tion of the founder of their re­li­gion, Guru Nanak Dev, on Novem­ber 12.

Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan laid the foun­da­tion stone at the site in late Novem­ber last year, stand­ing along­side then In­dian min­is­ter of food pro­cess­ing Har­sim­rat Kaur Badal, Min­is­ter for Hous­ing and Ur­ban Af­fairs Hardeep Puri, and crick­eter-turned-politi­cian Navjot Singh Sidhu.

In less than 12 months his spe­cial com­mit­tee, headed by Gov­er­nor Pun­jab Chaud­hary Sar­war, has ac­com­plished the task of mak­ing the cor­ri­dor con­nect­ing the two coun­tries, be­sides ren­o­vat­ing the site.

In a telling ges­ture, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi will see off the first wave of pil­grims who will be wel­comed across the bor­der by Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan.

They (Sikhs) are very ex­cited. The ini­tia­tive will pave the way for sim­i­lar ac­cess to other Sikh sites in Pak­istan in the fu­ture Ra­mash Singh Arora,

Cus­to­dian of the Kar­tarpur shrine

For the last 70 years, In­dian Sikhs have been watch­ing the Gur­d­wara Dar­bar Sahib — one of their holi­est sites in Kar­tarpur, Pak­istan — from their land across the bor­der. Hun­dreds of Sikhs make a bee­line ev­ery­day near the in­ter­na­tional bor­der in In­dian Pun­jab’s Gur­daspur district to catch a glimpse of the gur­d­wara sit­u­ated in Narowal district, wait­ing for the day when they could ac­tu­ally visit the place and pray.

Now their wait is over. To­day, the first batch of 10,000 pil­grims is set to per­form their rit­u­als on the com­pound of the Gur­d­wara with the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the Kar­tarpur Cor­ri­dor by Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan.

The Kar­tarpur Cor­ri­dor is a 4.1km over­land pas­sage that links the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in In­dia’s Gur­daspur with the Gur­d­wara Dar­bar Sahib in Pak­istan’s Kar­tarpur.

Kar­tarpur, about 118 kilo­me­tres from La­hore in Narowal district, lies on the banks of the Ravi River. It’s where baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, lived for 18 years be­fore he died there in 1539. The open­ing comes just days ahead of the Guru Nanak’s 550th birth­day on Novem­ber 12, which is marked with cel­e­bra­tions by mil­lions of Sikhs around the world.

Around 5,000 Sikh pil­grims from In­dia will be able to use the cor­ri­dor each day, with more devo­tees could be al­lowed on spe­cial oc­ca­sions. The cor­ri­dor in­cluded a kilo­me­tre-long bridge over the Ravi River which flows be­tween the two coun­tries. As a spe­cial ges­ture, the govern­ment has waived the re­quire­ment of pass­port and a 10-day ad­vance in­ti­ma­tion for one year. The stun­ning white-coloured ed­i­fice of the Gur­d­wara stands tall as a sym­bol of peace and har­mony. The Gur­d­wara has been built in a record time of 10 months, us­ing white mar­ble and tiles.

A Lan­gar Khana (food dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre) has been set up in­side the com­plex which will cater around 2,500 pil­grims who will ar­rive af­ter bio­met­ric reg­is­tra­tion at spe­cial coun­ters set up by im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties.

The govern­ment had ac­quired around 800 acres land and handed it over to the Gur­d­wara man­age­ment as a gift. Out of these, 42 acres were al­lo­cated for the con­struc­tion of the Gur­d­wara Com­plex while 62 acres were set aside for agri­cul­ture to meet the needs of the Lan­gar Khana.

The pack­age of fa­cil­i­ties has been set in place for the vis­i­tors, in­clud­ing a vil­lage to ac­com­mo­date Sikh pil­grims com­ing from all over the world. The reg­u­lar vis­i­tors will be given a one-day pass and they will have to re­turn the same day.

The in­au­gu­ra­tion to­day also co­in­cides with the birth­day of coun­try’s na­tional poet and philoso­pher Al­lama Iqbal, who in his poem ‘Nanak’ in his book Baang-e-Dara, holds the Sikh spir­i­tual leader in high es­teem for his monothe­ist be­liefs.

The vis­i­tors will also have a glance of the Sikh his­tory at a mu­seum set up within the vicin­ity where photograph­s of Sikh re­li­gious lead­ers have been put on dis­play. A 12-bed hospi­tal has been es­tab­lished for any health emer­gency for the pil­grims. Around 250 cam­eras will en­sure round-the-clock vigil for fool­proof se­cu­rity and ef­fec­tive mon­i­tor­ing of the com­plex, while 1,500 staffers have been as­signed to fa­cil­i­tate pil­grims. —

For over 70 years, pil­grims haven’t had the chance to cross over, to come over, and it’s go­ing to be a re­ally emo­tional moment Karan Deep Singh,

A pil­grim from Malaysia

It (peace) should im­prove and I’m hop­ing that it will im­prove. Def­i­nitely. Be­cause the good­will is oozing Bha­jan Singh Gre­wal from Aus­tralia

We are thank­ful to Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan for mak­ing en­try into Pak­istan easy and en­abling Sikhs to visit their sa­cred places

Sameera

A Sikh pil­grim from Eng­land

The open­ing of the Kar­tarpur Cor­ri­dor must def­i­nitely be seen as a pos­i­tive for Pun­jab-Pun­jab ties

Dalvir Singh Pannu,

Noted writer

ANI

HOLY TREK: Devo­tees walk­ing on the In­dian side of the Cor­ri­dor ahead of its in­au­gu­ra­tion in Gur­daspur on Fri­day. —

Check out our 12-page Kar­tarpur sup­ple­ment with to­day’s edi­tion.

AFP pho­tos

READY TO MOVE: A Pak­istani mo­tor­cy­clist rides past golf carts at the im­mi­gra­tion cen­tre near the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev in Kar­tarpur. —

ABODE OF PEACE: Work­ers clean the floor at the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at the Gur­d­wara Dar­bar Sahib ahead of its open­ing in Kar­tarpur.

ALL SET FOR A BIG DAY: Prepa­ra­tions un­der­way on the In­dian side of Kar­tarpur Cor­ri­dor in Gur­daspur on Fri­day.

PTI

TIME TO PRAY: Devo­tees of­fer prayer at the Gur­d­wara Kar­tarpur Sahib in Pak­istan on Fri­day. —

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