PM Imran Khan lays the foundation of long-awaited Kartarpur Corridor

Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor Wednesday afternoon. 

Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor Wednesday afternoon.

Elaborate arrangements were made at Narowal in Pakistan for the groundbreaking ceremony of a religious corridor between Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, and Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of Punjab.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa also arrived to attend the ceremony. Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar also attended the ceremony and had arranged a special dinner for the guests.

The Kartarpur corridor, which will facilitate visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is expected to be completed within six months, Pakistan foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said on Tuesday.

While cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal and Amritsar MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla along with Union ministers Hasimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Puri attended the ceremony on Wednesday. A group of 25 journalists from India had been invited by Pakistan for the event.

Speaking at the ceremony, Sidhu praised the move in an emotionally charged speech. He said 120 million Sikhs have been waiting for this for 71 years.

My parents used to come to Kartarpur and leave with tears in their eyes, he said, now, thanks to PM Khan, we can also come to see Katarpur’s Gurdwara.

Don’t look at these relationships through political lenses, he urged, thanking PM Khan for the step.

When Punjab was partitioned, hearts were broken, he said. Today, a key in the form of Imran Khan has come to open the door between the two Punjabs, he lauded.

He urged both India and Pakistan to progress together. With open borders we can trade, he added.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said poor relations between the two countries prevented the country from taking this step before.

Speaking at the event, PM Khan said the happiness he has seen on the Sikh attendees’ faces was the same he could imagine seeing on Muslim people’s faces if they were four kilometers from the Holy Kaaba and finally allowed to visit it.

Hailing the opening of the corridor, people on both sides of the border say it has the potential to bring “hope and peace” between the two countries. “We have fought a lot in the last 70 years. There was no gain from those fights by either India or Pakistan. It is now time we begin a new journey and the Katarpur corridor has the potential to bring peace,” says Abbas Khan, a 60-year-old Pakistan trader, a resident of Narowal.

Prime Minister Modi likened the decision by the two countries, indicating that the project may ease simmering tension between the two countries.