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