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November 29, 2018

Peace groups hail opening of Kartarpur corridor

Karachi

November 29, 2018

Karachi’s Sikh community and civil society activists have welcomed the groundbreaking of the long-awaited corridor connecting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in the Kartarpur area of Narowal district to Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district and said the initiative is a positive step and will help reduce tensions between Pakistan and India.

The Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is located in the Narowal district of the Punjab province near the Indian border and is revered by Sikhs due to the belief that Sikhism founder Guru Nanak had died there.

Pakistan Sikh Council

Leaders of the Pakistan Sikh Council on Wednesday welcomed the groundbreaking of the Kartarpur corridor project and said a long demand of the Sikh community had been fulfilled.

Sardar Ramesh Singh, the council’s patron-in-chief, said the decision had won the hearts of the Sikh community worldwide.

Giving credit to the civil and military leadership for the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, he said they were thankful to the governments of both countries for fulfilling a long- pending demand of the community.

“For the Sikh community, it is a historic day,” Singh said. “On the 550th birthday of Guru Nanak ji, there can be no bigger happiness than this for the community members living on both sides of the border.”

He credited the civil and military leaders for the opening of the corridor, saying that it would allow Sikh pilgrims to cross the border and visit the historical gurdwara there without a visa.

In 2019, Sikhs around the world will be commemorating the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. He demanded the Pakistani government should form a special committee for the celebration of the Sikh community’s religious day and include government officials and Pakistani Sikh leaders in it.

He also demanded of the government to nominate the chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board from the Sikh community. “It will also help the community to celebrate the Guru Nanak’s 550 birth anniversary,” he said.

Civil society groups

The Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) and members of the Peoples SAARC (Pakistan Chapter) also welcomed the Pakistan government’s move to invite Indian peace activists and journalists to attend the opening ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor.

In a statement, the peace activists termed the step a better diplomatic move to ease the tensions between the two neighbouring countries. In recent years, formal diplomatic dialogue between Pakistan and India has been halted and visa restrictions for the citizens of both the countries have been intensified. Even medical visas are seldom issued by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

People-to-people contact is essential for easing the tensions and the opening up the Kartarpur border for Sikh pilgrims is a good development, the statement said.

The longstanding summit meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was to be held in 2016 in Islamabad, but due to increased tensions between Pakistan and India, the latter and some other regional countries had postponed it. The activists demanded of the governments of both Pakistan and India to fix a date for holding the SAARC summit in Islamabad.

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