After an extended round of hostilities something positive happened when both countries – India and Pakistan decided to open and develop Kartarpur corridor. Development of Kartarpur Corridor between India and Pakistan is a significant development both in religious and political terms.
About Kartarpur corridor
Kartarpur is known for the first Sikh Gurudwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib that was established by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev ji. Guru Nanak Dev ji made Kartarpur Sahib, (Land of Kartar, God the Creator ) his abode towards the later part of his life and it was here that he left for his heavenly abode. The place is revered by both Sikhs and Muslims but carries a much greater significance for Sikh community.
During the partition of India in 1947, Kartarpur came became part of Pakistan. The border in the area is divided by river Ravi, and the only bridge connecting two countries was destroyed in 1965 war. Since then Indian pilgrims had very limited access to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. In 1999 Primi Minister Atal Bhiari Vajpayee raised the issue of opening up the corridor between the two countries to provide unhindered access to Sikh pilgrims to the revered shrine of their first Guru.
Several initiatives were taken over the two decades thereafter but none fructified until now. In 2018 following chronology of events led to development and opening of the Kartarpur corridor between Indian and Pakistan.
- In August 2018 when Imran Khan became the Prime Minister of India, Navjot Singh Sidhu, a cabinet minister in Indian Punjab government attended his swearing in ceremony. On his return he claimed that Pakistan is interested in opening up of Kartarpur Corridor on 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji.
- On 22 November 2018 Indian cabinet approved the Kartarpur Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak on Indian side to Pakistan Border.
- On 26 November Vice President Venkaiah Naidu lays the foundation stone of the Dera Baba Nanak – Kartarpur Sahib Corridor (up to the International Border) at an event at Mann village of Gurdaspur district of Punjab.
- On 28 November Prime Minister Imran Khan lays the foundation stone of the 4-km corridor which is expected to be completed by next year.
Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib is revered by all of Sikh community as a place of abode of their first Guru, Guru Nanak Dev ji. The Sikh community, a majority of which resides in Indian Punjab had restricted access to the shrine. Development of this corridor is of great significance for Sikh community as this would allow them open access to one of their most revered religious places. It would also allow Sikh residing on the Pakistan side to visit Gurudwaras on Indian side.
Opening up of this corridor also has important political significance on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. Relations between two countries have been little short of hostile after several attacks on military installations by Pakistan backed terrorists. Presently Pakistan has been facing a threat of alienation in the international scenario with America making things difficult and China also raising concerns. The Socio-political scene for Pakistan is becoming difficult. The economic condition of Pakistan too is in such a state that literally the country is on her knees for economic support for survival. It appears that the Military and the present Government want to improve relations with the neighbors to come out of the crisis they have landed in.
Kartarpur Sahib a development of huge importance towards peace building process between the two nations. Where this would help in extending people to people contact on one hand, on the other it can be seen as a confidence building measure to re-engage in long suspended political dialogue between the two countries.