Breaking the ice:Kartarpur corridor a step towards peace

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The Kartarpur initiative launched by Pakistan,is primarily aimed at reducing tensions between the two countries(India-Pakistan).

 

History and Background of KartarPur Border:

The 16th century shrine in Narowal district was where the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak, breathed his last.The Gurudwara was built to commemorate the site where Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, settled after his missionary work.

He assembled a Sikh community there, and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539.Located four kilometres away on the banks of the River Ravi, the revered shrine is visible from the Indian side.

Before the Partition, tehsil Narowal, in which Kartarpur is situated, and tehsil Shakargarh were part of Indian’s Punjab’s Gurdaspur district.After creation of Pakistan, these tehsils were made part of district Sialkot, and in 1991, Narowal and Shakargarh were upgraded as districts.

Proposals for Sikh Yatrees visa and passport free access

As Kartarpur Gurdwara lies only 3 kilometers from the border with India, It has been a long-drawn demand of Indian Sikh Yatrees that they should be provided with the facility of visiting Kartarpur’s Gurdwara Darbar Sahib directly from Dera Baba Nanak, a city and a municipal council in Gurdaspur district of Indian Punjab.

Currently, the Sikh Yatrees intending to visit Kartarpur’s Gurdwara Darbar Sahib have to reach Lahore first through Wagah border crossing and then proceed toward Kartarpur through Baddomalhi. However, after opening of Kartarpur border crossing and construction of the corridor, the Yatrees will have to cover just six kilometres distance across Ravi River.Pakistan contacted India time and again in the past in this regard, but failed to get a positive response every time.  Pakistan in the year 2000 agreed to allow Sikh pilgrims from India to visit the shrine visa-free (and without passport) by constructing a bridge from the India side of the border to the shrine.

A suggestion was made once again few months back. As India is going to election next year, the Narendra Modi government showed willingness to accept the suggestion and open the Kartarpur border, to win the support of the Sikh community in polls.

The Groundbreaking initiative :

After Imran Khan’s party won General Election in 2018. During the swearing-in ceremony of Premier Imran Khan in May 2018.The initiative, launched by Pakistan, is primarily aimed at reducing tensions between the two countries Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa told visiting former cricketer and incumbent Indian Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu that he was in favor of construction of Kartarpur Corridor to facilitate the Yatrees.

The announcement sent a wave of joy among the Sikh community in India and Pakistan.

Pakistan Initiative for Breaking the ice:

The initiative, launched by Pakistan, is primarily aimed at reducing tensions between the two countries.The corridor will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of Narowal district with Dera Baba Nanak in India s Gurdaspur District.Pakistan will build the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab s Gurdaspur district upto the border will be constructed by India.

An Indian delegation, including Minister for Food Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister for Housing Hardeep S. Puri, Indian Punjab Minister for Local Government and Tourism and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu and Indian journalists, will attend the ceremony.

The initiative for opening the corridor was taken by Pakistan which was later endorsed by the Indian side.The initiative has widely been lauded both in Pakistan and India as a step towards building bridges between the two countries.

Earlier, talking to media after arriving at Wagah Border, former Indian Cricketer and Minister of Indian Punjab Navjot Singh Sidhu said that Kartarpur will be peace Corridor between two countries. Sidhu said that the religion should never be seen with political eye.

At the moment, the corridor would be used only for performance of religious rituals by the Sikh Yatrees.

The Pakistani government is preparing a master plan for construction and completion of the corridor, and it is hoped the project would be completed by November 2019, when the Sikh community would celebrate 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.

It is also hoped the act of inaugurating work on Kartarpur Corridor by Prime Minister Imran Khan would prove to be beginning of new relations with India.

Pakistan India relations and Kartarpur Border:

Analysts have described the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s move to open the Kartarpur opening as a bold and wise move.

The two countries will move on to hold talks on logistics, visa, and other details of the Kartarpur corridor, which is described as a change from the past five years of no talks despite

Pakistan’s reiterated proposals. One hopes the Kartarpur opening is a step towards peace.

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Rava Desk

Rava is an online news portal providing recent news, editorials, opinions and advice on day to day happenings in Pakistan.

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