Kartarpur Corridor: Pakistan welcomes first batch of Sikh Pilgrims

Pakistan welcomes the first batch of 500 Sikh Pilgrims who crossed the border through the Kartarpur Corridor. Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated his commitment to make the Corridor fully functional by November to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.

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News Desk |

On Tuesday, the first batch of Sikh pilgrims entered Pakistan through the border crossing at the Kartarpur Corridor. The news of their arrival was confirmed by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

The first batch of the Sikh pilgrims, consisting of over 500 pilgrims, has arrived in Pakistan to take part in the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Sahib. On 26th July, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi had issued the visas of the Sikh pilgrims, under the directives of the Pakistan-Indian Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974.

The Corridor is designed to provide visa-free access to the Indian Sikh communities that seek to visit the historic Gurdwara, located in Kartarpur Sahib-a town located in Pakistan’s Narowal district.

The PTI-led government of Pakistan has undertaken multiple measures, including opening up the Kartarpur Corridor border crossing, to allow the Indian Sikh communities to freely visit the most significant shrine in Sikhism faith, and to make sure that the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak is a memorable one.

Pakistan Ready to Facilitate Sikhs 

Prime Minister Imran Khan, on Monday, noted that the federal government has undertaken relevant measures to ensure that the Indian Sikh community is facilitated during its travels through the Kartarpur Corridor. The Corridor will become fully functional by November, before the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.

Addressing at the event, titled “One land, one flag and one nation,” held on Minority Day at the President House on Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan emphasized Pakistan’s agendas to respect other religious minorities, and safeguard their religious rights and heritage.

Read more: Kartarpur land tilled by Guru Nanak himself to be preserved in Pakistan

The premier highlighted the significance of Kartarpur for the Sikh community, he said, “I was not aware of the significance of Kartarpur for the Sikh community, and recently, I realized that it was their Makkah and Madinah. Upon realizing, I understood how much we would detest if it was difficult for Muslims to visit Makkah and Madinah. This is why it is important to facilitate them.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan promised the Sikh community, “We will develop your places of worship.”

Addressing the religious minorities of Pakistan, including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and the Kalasha, the premier vowed to protect their places of worship, develop their religious heritage and make accessibility easier. He also vowed to protect religious minorities against widespread ignorance by changing the prevailing mindsets and encouraging religious tolerance.

In his speech, the premier noted that when we view Islamic history in all its entirety, it is evident that there is no room for forced conversions, and those who practice such beliefs are unaware of Islamic history, and the religious teachings of the Quran and Sunnah.

The Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ambassador Ajay Bisaria, met with Governor Punjab, Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, to discuss the ongoing work on the Kartarpur Corridor.  

Pakistan commemorates Minority Day to memorialize the historic address given by founder Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, at the legislative assembly on 11th August, 1947. Quaid-i-Azam had said that all citizens are free to worship as they choose, and will have the freedom to choose their places of worship without any discrimination.

Kartarpur Corridor Enters Final Phase

The construction project on the Kartarpur Corridor project has entered its final phase, and as per the promises made by Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Indian Sikh community, the Corridor will be fully functional by November 2019.

As the Kartarpur Corridor is completed, it will give birth to a bustling new city surrounding the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal district. The construction of the Darshan Point Zero Line terminal is being expedited, while the carpeting of the road has also begun.

Read more: Kartarpur Border Terminal: FWO completes 80% of the work

The authorities are speedily completing the construction work on the roads leading from the Gurdwara to Zero Line, while the construction of the bridge on the River Ravi, requested by New Delhi, has been completed.

Earlier, Pakistan had vowed that the construction of the Kartarpur Corridor will be completed by the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. The Corridor is designed to provide visa-free access to the Indian Sikh communities that seek to visit the historic Gurdwara, located in Kartarpur Sahib-a town located in Pakistan’s Narowal district, and rests at a four-kilometer distance from the Pak-India border.

Kartarpur Sahib has immense significance in Sikhism, as it is the place where Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, spent the last 18 years of his life. Prime Minister Imran Khan had himself performed the groundbreaking of the construction project on Kartarpur Corridor on 28th November 2018.

Read more: Pakistan restores 72-year old ancient Hindu temple

Earlier last week, the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ambassador Ajay Bisaria, met with Governor Punjab, Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, to discuss the ongoing work on the Kartarpur Corridor.

Pakistan has extended generous facilities and freedom for the Indian Sikh pilgrims to freely access their religious sites and the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

The PTI-led government will also construct six residential blocks to provide residence and lodging to 700 pilgrims, while the construction of hundred immigration counters is underway.

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