Pakistan gives nod to Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, agrees to open border next year
Islamabad, Nov 23: The Pakistan government on Friday agreed to open its border to facilitate the visit of pilgrims to Kartarpur Sahib, a Sikh place of worship where Guru Nanak spent his last 18 years. This comes a day after India announced that it will start construction of the Kartarpur corridor up to the international border.
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is 120 km from Lahore. It is built on the historic site where Guru Nanak settled and assembled a Sikh community after his travels. The present gurdwara is built on the site where Guru Nanak died, on 22 September 1539.
"Pakistan has decided to open Kartarpur Corridor for the 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in 2019. Pakistan PM will inaugurate the groundbreaking ceremony of the facilities at the crossing on the Pakistan side, on 28 November 2018," ANI quoted a Pakistan government's statement as saying.
The Union Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday approved the development of the Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district to the International Border.
The government had also urged Pakistan to recognise the sentiments of the Sikh community and develop a corridor with suitable facilities in its territory as well.
India has announced that President Ram Nath Kovind and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will lay the foundation stone for the proposed corridor two days earlier, on November 26.
Why is Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur significant:
The shrine is located on the bank of River Ravi and is around 120 kilometres northeast of Lahore. Guru Nanak had lived here for 18 years till his death in 1539. The shrine is visible from the Indian side and a number of Indian Sikhs gather to get a view of the pilgrimage site. Binoculars are also installed at Gurudwara Dera Baba Nanak for viewing the sacred place.
The Gurudwara was opened for pilgrims' sighting after it was repaired and restored in 1999. One of the positive outcomes of former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's bus diplomacy with Pakistan the same year was this.
Demand for the corridor:
The demand for the corridor to facilitate the pilgrims' arrival to the shrine has been a long one. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and political leaders have been demanding the pathway bordered by barbed wire to allow the pilgrims to enter Pakistan and visit the shrine and return the same day. For the purpose, a bridge has to be constructed over the river. Last year, a parliamentary standing committee visited Dera Baba Nanak.