It’s a giant leap towards peace in the subcontinent. On Nov 9, Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor facilitating Sikhs from India to visit the place where Baba Guru Nanak – the founder of the Sikh religion, spent the last days of his life – without a visa. The four-kilometer passage links Narowal district to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, India. Formerly, Indian Sikhs first travelled to Lahore and from there they went to Kartarpur. Now pilgrims will be saved from travelling long distances to visit Kartarpur. The two nuclear-armed neighbours laid the foundation stones for the corridor last year. Proposed during former Indian prime minister Vajpayee’s 1999 Lahore visit, the project could not materialise because of the mostly strained relations between the two nations. The project, which many call the corridor of peace, has been completed in 11 months by both countries.
PM Khan has waived the $20 fee for those coming to Kartarpur from India on the day of the inauguration to attend the 550thth birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. He also announced two other relaxations for the pilgrims coming from India: they will only need a valid national identity card, and will not have to register 10 days in advance.
Former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, Chief Minister of Indian Punjab Amrinder Singh, and Congress leader Navjot Sidhu were also present at the inauguration. The Kartrarpur Corridor is a landmark peace move. The “peace corridor” will likely lead to a thaw in Pakistan-India relations vitiated by the Modi government’s decision to annex the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir entirely against the wishes of the people of that state.
It is, however, unfortunate that the Indian Supreme Court’s decision allowing the construction of a temple at the place of the demolished Babri Masjid has come on the day of the inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor. The Indian SC has ordered that Muslims should be given alternative land to build a mosque. Pakistan has rightly described the court verdict as a political decision.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2019.