Pakistan, India Move to Open Historic Border Crossing for Sikhs

30 November, 2018, 04:19 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • PM Imran Inaugurated Ground-breaking of Kartarpur corridor

At the same time, he said that Pakistan was willing to wait for New Delhi to be ready to engage, hinting that electoral politics was behind Indian government's lukewarm response. "The moment Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, bilateral dialogue can start".

Sikh pilgrims will board a bus in India, get a special permit to visit Pakistan at the border terminal and be taken to Gurdwara Sahib via special transportation.

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 see Katarpur's Gurdwara.

Pakistani PM Imran Khan's remarks that "Kashmir was the only issue" to be resolved surprised Indian observers who said Khan could not be unaware of the complex and intractable nature of the problem. He said the corridor will facilitate the Sikh pilgrims to visit their holiest sites in Pakistan.

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Imran Khan in a recent interview to an English news channel has said that the consensus for talks with India should not be seen as desperation for talks while adding that he can't be blamed for the issues which his government has inherited in Pakistan with respect to New Delhi-Islamabad relations. India points fingers at Pakistan, and Pakistan points fingers at India.

Khan said India and Pakistan need more steps like this (Kartarpur corridor) for peace in the South Asian region.

The proposal to construct the corridor providing visa-free access to Sikh pilgrims was renewed by Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in August this year. "Imagine, once trade begins, once our relationship is fixed, how much both nations could benefit", he said and reiterated that if India takes one step forward, Pakistan will take two steps forward in friendship. However, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on the cusp of general elections in India, has not responded warmly to this gesture.

A large number of Sikh yatris ─ both local and Indian ─ along with visiting Indian Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep S. Puri, and Indian Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu were invited to attend the ceremony, along with other foreign diplomats and journalists. Among the tall claims made were efforts made to normalise relations with India only for a rather cold reciprocation from across the border.

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"The more people meet, the more they realise how much in common we have, and what we are missing by not resolving our outstanding issues." he said.

The Indian Foreign Minister released a statement expressing "grave concern at the reports of attempts being made during the ongoing visit of the Indian pilgrims to Pakistan, to incite communal disharmony and intolerance and promote secessionist tendencies with the objective of undermining India's sovereignty and territorial integrity". "I invite you to contest elections from Pakistan's Punjab and I know you will win not only from Punjab but also from any constituency of Pakistan", Prime Minister Khan said.

The Kartarpur corridor is supposed to be completed and opened well ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of the Sikh guru on November 23, 2019.

The Gurdwara Kartarpur Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Narowal city holds religious significance for the Sikh community; It is the place where Baba Guru Nanak settled down after his travels as a missionary.

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