Pakistan opens Kartarpur Corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrims

ISLAMABAD, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor to make a historic pilgrimage to the shrine of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism.

Thousands of Sikhs from across the Indian border started arriving in Pakistan as Islamabad and New Delhi make history by opening the Kartarpur Corridor. In his address on the inauguration ceremony, Premier Khan congratulated the Sikh community on the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak and welcomed the Sikh pilgrims to visit one of the religion’s holiest sites in Pakistan.

Citing the examples of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Nelson Mandela and Sufi saints, the prime minister said a true leader is one who always brings people together and does not spread hate in order to gain votes. Referring to the issue of Kashmir, Khan said he had suggested to his Indian counterpart 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,” He continued, “The first thing I did after becoming the prime minister was to tell (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi that poverty is our mutual problem, and the way to deal with it is to open our borders to people and trade.” Former Indian premier, Manmohan Singh led the first delegation of Sikh pilgrims as they crossed into Pakistan. He said, “I hope India and Pakistan relations improve enormously as a result of this beginning.” Indian Punjab’s Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh who was also part of the caravan said, “They were all happy because it had been a desire of Sikhs to visit their religious sites in Pakistan for 70 years.” Pakistan government has employed hundreds of labourers to spruce up the shrine, including building a border immigration checkpoint and a bridge, as well as expanding the site’s grounds. Ahead of the opening, the prime minister announced special waivers in order to facilitate Indian pilgrims. Pilgrims who arrive from India will no longer need a passport to cross over into Pakistan as long as they have a valid identity. About 10,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive from around the world to mark Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday on November 12.

The opening of the border came at a time when tensions along the Pakistan-India border and Indian-administered Kashmir has risen after Indian government revoked disputed Kashmir’s special status with a presidential order in August. Islamabad, after degrading diplomatic ties with New Delhi over the issue, has asked United Nations Security Council to fulfill its responsibilities for the maintenance of international and regional peace and security in accordance with the UN Charter and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. However, India has insisted that Kashmir is its internal matter and there is no room for Pakistan or any other foreign country to interfere. Indian government argued that the changes to Kashmir’s status would bring economic development and infrastructure improvements to the region.

Source: Kuwait News Agency