On Friday, 7th of September, our information minister Fawad Chaudhry announced that Imran Khan was deliberating on giving Sikh pilgrims direct access to the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Narowal district of Punjab province.
During an interview with BBC Urdu, Chaudhry informed that the PTI government was developing “a system” for Sikh pilgrims to visit this significant location and some forward movement was expected soon.
The plans include opening up a road which will connect to the closest point of the Indian border, which is barely 6kms apart, providing the pilgrims with an easy way of commuting to and fro. It will occur during the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Sahib, but it is unclear whether it’s permanent or merely a one-time thing.
“Pakistan will soon open the border at Kartarpur for Sikh pilgrims who will be able to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur without visas,” Chaudhry said, adding on that a road will be constructed for the pilgrims and purchase of a ticket will be required to go back.
There has been a longstanding demand in India for this corridor to facilitate Sikh Indians. In 2010, Punjab Assembly had passed a resolution supporting this cause but the issue never really saw the light of day and was quietly swept aside.
It resurfaced when Indian cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sindhu crossed the border to attend Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony in private capacity; as a friend by his own admission. Outrage erupted online when he was seen hugging Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Indian Chief Minister Amarinder Singh even went ahead to condemn the action.
In an exclusive with Times Now, Captain Singh stated that hugging Pakistan’s COAS was unnecessary when 200-300 Indian soldiers were dying every year. “Every year, at least 200-300 soldiers are either killed or wounded. And I think at that stage you do not go and hug the Pakistani chief of army staff who has given instruction,” said CM Singh.
Sidhu put forward his defense by mentioning talks regarding the opening of the corridor, which brought much joy to the Sikh community of India.
Pak may allow Sikh pilgrims a direct access to historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, situated 3km from Gurdaspur border on the 550th birth anniversary of GuruNanakDevJi, next year
For this NavjotSingh Sidhu deserves praise & not allegations of treasonhttps://t.co/rFy9icfqdR
— Ramandeep Singh (@RamanDSingh_) August 19, 2018
@sherryontopp has done nothing wrong by hugging Pak army chief,its d way Pbi’s meet! I demand opening of corridor to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.I also demand of opening of Indo-Pak border that’ll immensely boost Pb’s economy. There’s no illwill between ppl its fight between govt’s pic.twitter.com/dFs1yCYAGI
— Sukhpal Singh Khaira (@SukhpalKhaira) August 20, 2018
Quoting diplomatic reports, PM Imran Khan’s cabinet took the decision after holding several consultations with appropriate stakeholders. The final date for talks depends upon the response towards this proposal from the Indian side. Sidhu says there is no bigger happiness than this for the people of Indian Punjab.
Needless to say, this is a massive step in the right direction for our country which will endorse further talks of peace with our neighbors. It also promotes Pakistan as increasingly tolerant and facilitative towards religious minorities. If this is what tabdeeli looks like…I am all for it!
Why this news hasn’t taken over our social media is a true mystery to me…