By Muhammad Luqman
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor on Saturday, for Indian Sikhs, allowing them to visit the Guru Nanak’s final resting place without a visa.
The 4-kilometre corridor provides visa-free access to Sikh pilgrims, allowing them to travel to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, spent the final 18 years of his life.
The passage links the town of Kartarpur in Narowal district of Pakistani Punjab to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur in Indian Punjab.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was extremely happy for the global Sikh community.
“All religions teach us two things: justice and love,” said the premier.
“A leader will always bring people together and will not divide them. A leader does not spread hatred and canvasses votes on the basis religion,” said the prime minister while referring to India’s PM Modi in a veiled manner.
Referring to long standing dispute of Kashmir, the prime minister said he had suggested to Modi to resolve the issue. “What we are witnessing in Kashmir today, it is not an international issue anymore. It has escalated to a humanitarian crisis.”
“Unfortunately things have gotten even worse for the people of Kashmir.”
He further said the Sub Continent will only progress when the issue of Kashmir is resolved. “And, God willing, that day is not far.”
The prime minister, who arrived earlier using the shuttle service being used by the Sikh pilgrims, greeted the Indian delegation shortly after his arrival.
Cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu lauded PM Imran’s Kartarpur initiative and paid rich tribute to the premier.
“This is the first prime minister, a lion, who did not care about benefit or loss and made the Kartapur dream a reality for the millions of Sikhs around the world.”
“My friend Imran turned our dream into reality in just 10 months.”
Former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh who led a delegation of Sikh pilgrims as they crossed the international border. He was also accompanied by Indian Punjab’s Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
“I hope India and Pakistan relations improve as a result of this beginning,” said the former Indian prime minister while talking to state Television, PTV.
On other side of the border, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi while seeing off the Sikh Jatha for Pakistan, thanked the prime minister Imran Khan and said: “I also thank Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan for understanding India’s wishes and turning Kartarpur into reality”.
The right-wing leader added that the opening of the historic corridor has “brought us immense happiness”.
“I congratulate all of my Sikh brothers and sisters in India and around the world on the inauguration of Karatarpur corridor.”
The first batch of Sikh pilgrims arrived at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib after undergoing the immigration process at the border terminal earlier today.
As a gesture of goodwill, PM Imran also waived the passport requirement for Sikh pilgrims entering the country on this auspicious occasion.
Around 10,000 pilgrims are set to perform their rituals within the compound of the Gurdwara after seven decades.
Earlier, Sikh pilgrims had to travel by road to Lahore and then to Narowal to perform their rituals at the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib.
The project was initiated on the directives of the premier as a testimony of Pakistan’s commitment to promoting interfaith harmony and regional peace.