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Kartarpur Corridor

Kartarpur Corridor
November 19
14:21 2019

(UTV|COLOMBO) – Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur

Pakistan is a land of peace and harmony where followers of all religions enjoy full freedom to profess and practice their creeds. The Sikh community lives in peace and amity in all parts of the country. Their Gurdwaras are present in all parts of the country for centuries, and the Government of Pakistan has taken responsibility for their upkeep and maintenance, but Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur, near the Indian Gurdaspur border, 120 km from Lahore, located in Tehsil Shakargarh, District, Narowal, has a special religious and spiritual significance for its association with Baba Guru Nanak.

The Gurdwara is one of the most sacred shrines of Sikhs. In fact, Sikhism emanated from this religious centre where Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent the last eighteen year of his life and groomed his followers. Among the spirituality guided disciples was Guru Angad Dev who spread his message far and wide and shaped a separate identity for adherents of the new religion. Guru Nanak Dev Ji was revered by the Muslims and the Sikhs alike.

Groundbreaking of the Corridor

Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the ground-breaking of the Kartarpur Corridor on 28th November 2018. The corridor will connect the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of District Narowal of Pakistan with Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district. Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur. The initiative for opening the corridor was taken by the Government of Pakistan to meet the long-standing request of Nanak Naam Levas and especially the Sikh community across the world, particularly from India.

The ceremony was also attended by Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu, the then Minister for Local Government, Tourism, Cultural Affairs and Museums and Harisimrat Kaur Badal, the then Minister for Food from India. In addition, large number of the people from Sikh community and journalists from both countries also attended the historical event besides Ambassadors/Diplomats of various countries in Pakistan and people from different walks of life.

Brief Details of the Project

A vast tract of 1500 acres was set aside for the project. The first phase of the project includes building of an immigration terminal at the border and a bridge on the River Ravi at the crossing point, expansion and renovation of the Gurdwara, and reconstruction of necessary facilities for the yatrees has been completed. The religious beliefs of the Sikh community and customary Sikh structures have been taken into account while designing the building of the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

During the second phase, hotels and hostels will be built for visitors, besides temporary residential facilities to accommodate ten thousand yatrees well before the coming events. It also includes construction of 500 meter road up to the border terminal to facilitate transportation of yatrees.

The immigration terminal at the border will have a spacious parking, besides medical and other necessary facilities. After getting the visit permit, the yatrees will be transported by buses to the parking lot next to the Gurdwara, for which 6.8 km road and 800 m long bridge over Ravi River has been constructed. Security posts will be established along the route to ensure safety of the yatrees. After reaching the parking area for permit holders, they will be allowed to enter the Gurdwara after bio-metric registration. Once within the holy precinct, they will be free to perform their religious rites and rituals during the given time.

Reconstruction of the aging structures near the shrine, on modern lines, is an important component of the project along with the planned renovation and expansion of the Gurdwara precincts. The new buildings are designed to cater for all necessary needs of the visitors. They include the public kitchen, places of worship and library.

Signing of MoU

After protracted negotiations, Pakistan and India have signed an agreement to open the Kartarpur corridor for Indian pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on 24 October 2019. The agreement will facilitate visa-free travel of 5,000 pilgrims daily in groups or individually, on foot or by bus to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, from dawn to dusk throughout the year. The number of Sikh pilgrims would be increased on special occasions, subject to capacity. The pilgrims will travel on valid documents.

Baba Guru Nanak University

Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of Baba Guru Nanak University at Nankana Sahib in Punjab Province on 28th October 2019. This will be the first university of its kind in which focus will be laid on Punjabi and Khalsa languages. The university would offer research and academic activities, on the life of Baba Guru Nanak. The University will also work to promote religious tourism in the country, besides serving as community centre for Sikh community based in Pakistan and abroad.

Commemorative Coin, Stamp and Song

To mark the opening of Kartarpur Corridor, the Government of Pakistan has released a commemorative postage stamp and a coin for pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. Moreover, Pakistan has also launched an official song on the occasion to welcome the Sikh pilgrims.

Opening of the Corridor

Prime Minister Imran Khan will be opening Kartarpur Corridor on 9th November 2019. The landmark project initiated as a peace-building measure for the region and to promote interfaith harmony, is entirely funded and executed by Pakistan as a gift for Sikh community. Prime Minister Imran Khan, as a gesture of goodwill, has waived off the condition of passport and the fee for pilgrims, who are visiting Pakistan, on the day of opening of the corridor and Baba Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday.

The writer is a Press Attaché at the High Commission of Pakistan, Colombo
Intisar Ahmad Sulehry

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