New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday will lay the foundation stone of the much-awaited Kartarpur Corridor. Indian Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid the foundation stone of the corridor in Gurdaspur on November 26. Indian Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri along with Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu will be present to attend the ceremony.
Reportedly, PM Imran Khan will himself show Harsimrat Kaur, Puri and Sidhu around the gurdwara during the groundbreaking ceremony and after which there will be a ‘langar’ for everyone.
Pakistan had invited Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sushma Swaraj, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to the ceremony but Sushma Swaraj had expressed inability to attend the ceremony citing her prior commitments.
While Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had also declined the invitation citing terror attacks and killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistan armed forces, his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu accepted it. The cricketer-turned-politician, who had triggered a controversy by attending Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony as well, had said that he was awaiting a response from the MEA. (ALSO READ: Kartarpur Corridor: Pakistan Calls India’s Response to Invite Positive; Sushma Swaraj, Amarinder Not to go)
Both India and Pakistan had agreed to open the corridor for the Sikh devotees for Baba Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary. The decision came after Narendra Modi-led government had cleared a proposal to develop a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the International Border to facilitate Indian pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan. (Also read: Centre Approves Kartarpur Sahib Corridor)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also hoped that the Kartarpur Corridor would act as a bridge between the peoples of India and Pakistan that might lead to a better future as he referred to the fall of the Berlin Wall to underline the importance of people-to-people contact.
The corridor will link Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur – the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev – to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district.
Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. It was established by the Sikh Guru in 1522. The first Gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was built here, where Guru Nanak Dev is said to have died.
The Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, is expected to be completed within six months, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Faisal said on Tuesday.
The development comes ahead of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary next year. Thousands of Sikh devotees from India visit Pakistan every year to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of his cricketer-turned-politician friend Imran Khan as prime minister of that country. After his return, Sidhu said that Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had told him that Pakistan may open a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib.
Sidhu has already arrived in Lahore with a group of Indian journalists to attend the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday. This is Sidhu’s second visit to the neighbouring country this year.
(With agency inputs)