There are two families in my neighborhood whose adults are at loggerheads more often than not. However, the kids have grown up together and hence, are connected to this date. As a result, the adults have to keep their differences aside sometimes and try to get along because they know it’s in the best interest of the kids.
India and Pakistan are like these two families. Amidst all the rivalry, politics and warmongering, the citizens of the two countries continue to share a lot in common, including religious beliefs, culture, and history.
I believe that this is what will eventually usher in the peaceful times for people on both sides of the border.
What happened yesterday substantiates my belief.
Ahead of the momentous occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of the first Guru of Sikhism, Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji, the heads of the two countries i.e. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan, inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor.
What Is The Kartarpur Corridor?
After Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji completed his travels across the world, which is called ‘udasiyan’ in Punjabi, He came and settled in Kartarpur, Pakistan on the banks of river Ravi between 1520 and 1522.
It was here that He practiced what he preached in order to show people the path to enlightenment and union with God- “naam japo, kirt karo, vand chhako,” which means one should pray to the Almighty, work hard, and share whatever one produces with all.
Finally, He left for his heavenly abode from here. Therefore, Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur was constructed for the devotees to come and pay their respects at the place where He spent the last phase of his life and teachings.
It is believed that He used to come to the well in the town now called Dera Baba Nanak on the Indian side of the river to graze his cattle. Gurdwara Sri Dera Baba Nanak was built at this place in Gurdaspur, Punjab to commemorate the Guru’s visit there.
The Kartarpur Corridor is a 4.7 kilometres long corridor that connects these two holy Sikh shrines in India and Pakistan.
It will allow Indian devotees to visit Kartarpur without a visa on the historic occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikh religion. However, a fee of USD 20 and passport will be required for the same.
A Walk Down The Historical Lane
The Kartarpur Corridor was proposed for the first time in 1999 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, respectively.
Pakistan revamped the Gurdwara in Kartarpur, and it could be viewed from the Indian Border through binoculars. The project was dropped later due to tensions between the two countries during the Kargil war.
In 2004, the then Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, initiated a composite dialogue between India and Pakistan wherein he discussed the Amritsar–Lahore–Kartarpur road corridor.
However, when the attacks took place in Mumbai in 2008, the ties between India and Pakistan were snapped. As a result, the corridor project didn’t get kicked off.
In August 2018, the then tourism minister of Punjab Navjot Singh Sidhu attended the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inaugural ceremony. There, he was made aware of Pakistan’s intent to implement the Dera Baba Nanak–Kartarpur corridor. This set things in motion.
The Indian Cabinet approved the plan proposed by Punjab government led by Capt. Amrinder Singh in November 2018 to make the corridor.
On 9 November 2019, the corridor was inaugurated and the first batch of 550 Indians were allowed to use it to visit Kartarpur.
A Positive Move For Both India and Pakistan
I think it’s a positive move in the right direction for both the countries.
It will give an impetus to the tourism industry and economy of Pakistan, which is financially crippled as of now. More importantly, it will boost the popularity of PM Imran Khan among the masses.
For India, this corridor was much awaited, especially by Sikh devotees. PM Modi has been able to pander to the Sikh minority by becoming the flag-bearer of the corridor project that was in the making for a long time now.
After surgical strikes, the bilateral ties between the two countries had reached the lowest point in the recent years.
Can the Kartapur Corridor lead to peaceful talks or is it still a far-fetched idea? Let me know what you think about this in the comments below.
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