The Secretary-General of the UNO is visiting the Kartartpur Corridor. Antonio Guterres is being briefed about the complex of the corridor. The Kartarpur Corridor was initiated by Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan to facilitate the Sikh visitors of the Eastern part of Punjab. Every year millions of devotees of Sikh community Guru, Guru Nanak to the Gurdwara in Pakistan situated about 4 kilometers away from Narowal District in Pakistan.
I commend the brave polio vaccine workers — mostly women — working to stamp out polio in Pakistan.
Important gains have been made, but we need a concerted push to eradicate this awful disease. pic.twitter.com/xR34QiRjUI
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) February 18, 2020
The significance for the Sikh community is that Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life in Punja Sahib, where this Kartarpur Corridor has been established recently in 2019.
Prime minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor in November 2019. Interestingly this mega project was completed in only 11 months.
Kartarpur Corridor: A symbol of peace and interfaith harmony in Pakistan
The Kartarpur Corridor was opened in November, 2019 on the 550th anniversary of Sikh religious leader Baba Guru Nanak. The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor providing access to Sikhs to visit the revered Sikh Guru’s final resting place is in reality of enormous ramifications, a landmark achievement for Pakistan. Proposed during former Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s 1999 visit, the project remained on the back burner for two decades due to the fluctuating ties between the two nations, the foundation stone for the Kartarpur Corridor was laid only last year.
This project has become a basis for improving relations between the people of India and Pakistan – if not between their governments. Creating goodwill among the people, it is a major step forward also in Pakistan’s dealing with its own religious minorities, some of whom happen to be Sikhs. Born in Punjab, Sikhism is the homeland of Sikhs.
Partition in 1947 saw most Sikhs migrating to India but their holy places remained in Pakistan. Pakistan became home to more than 150 sacred Sikh sites. Other important gurdwaras include the Dera Sahab in Lahore and Gurdwara Punja Sahab Hasan Abdal, where Sikh devotees from across the globe visit and perform religious rituals.
Followers of Guru Nanak converge on Punjab each year to visit holy sites in the province. Pakistan has had a difficult relationship with its religious minorities since its inception. Pakistan was made to be an ‘Islamic state’, instead of just a Muslim-majority state this led to a situation where Islamic scholars – real ones and token ones to taking it upon themselves to decide what the place of non-Muslims would be in the newly formed country.
Importance of visit of Antonio Guterres
The visit of the United Nations’ Secretary-general Antonio Guterres holds vehement significance. It basically reflects that Pakistan is a more plural country where the minorities are treated respectfully akin to the majority. It also downplays Indian Propaganda against Pakistan and also negates the Indian agenda citing Pakistan an extremist country. Moreover, this Kartarpur Corridor is the diplomatic success of Pakistan and is considered a positive stance of Pakistan towards peace in the region.
This is not a small success in a situation when the Indian government is threatening to wage war Pakistan and Azad Kashmir and is badmouthing Pakistan internationally. It goes to the credit of this government that in a situation when war was looming close in February this year and after 5th August when Kashmiri Autonomy was scrapped that this project was not axed together with so many others.
Kartarpur can become a new beginning for Indo-Pak relations whenever the time is rife for it. And there is another, an international angle to Kartarpur as well. After successfully drawing international attention to the misery of the Kashmir population on the Indian side of LoC the world now can see that Pakistan is making a credible effort to keep peace intact despite the tensions prevalent in the subcontinent right now.