Dera Baba Nanak, June 28, : External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said that the building of a tarred corridor between the Dera Baba Nanak in India and the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan's Narowal District, could serve as a possible confidence building measure (CBM) between the two countries.
Mukherjee was visiting Dera Baba Nanak at the invitation of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to assess the feasibility of the corridor to facilitate pilgrims.
Mukherjee said it was necessarily to create a good relationship with Pakistan, as "We have already opened two routes with Pakistan and are ready to open more routes so that more people come and know each other, and remove existing misunderstandings."
The minister announced that the Indian Government would send a group of experts to conduct a feasibility study for the construction of the much in demand corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to Kartarpur Sahib. He said the team would submit a report to the government, following which the matter would be discussed with Pakistan.
If Islamabad agreed to proposed project, it would be immediately implemented, he added.
Mukherjee visit to the border was welcomed by various Sikh organizations.
Badal thanked Mukherjee for his favourable response to the request forwarded by the entire Sikh community.
Mukherjee's green signal meant that the proposed corridor would soon be a reality, Badal said.
Badal said that once the corridor was in place, Sikh devotees could enjoy a hassle-free pilgrimage, instead of taking the circuitous journey via Wagah, Lahore and Narowal.
The region would also experience heightened economic and tourism activity as a result.
"The corridor to the holy shrine would in time turn out to be a corridor for peace and prosperity," claimed Nirmal Singh Kahlon, the Speaker of the Punjab State Assembly.
Jathedar Kuldeep Singh Wadala, the president of the Kartarpur Langha Committee, said: "It would be a dream come true. We have been struggling for many years to get this corridor and wish that the visit of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will bring fruit."
Dr. Pritpal Singh, the convener of the American Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (AGPC), described it as a long pending demand of the Sikh Diaspora.
Talking from the United States, Dr. Singh said that they would also appeal to the Pakistan Government to respond positively to build the corridor without any further delay.
He also offered the help of the AGPC in funding the cost of the corridor.
Dr. Rajwant Singh, the president of a Washington-based NGO, said that it would really be a happy moment for the Sikhs if the Government of India moved in the direction of building a corridor between the two countries.
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar also welcomed the Indian Government initiative.
KanwarPal Singh, a spokesperson for the Dal Khalsa, also welcomed the announcement made by Pranab Mukherjee.
The Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib is situated in Pakistan's Narowal District, where Guru Nanak spent more than 18 years of his life.
Sikh pilgrims have been demanding a safe passage to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib from Dera Baba Nanak for years. By Ravinder Singh Robin