Punjab

Indian envoy to Pak visits Kartarpur Sahib amid corridor hopes

August 30, 2018 07:57 AM

New Delhi, August 29: Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad Ajay Bisaria on Wednesday visited Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan’s Narowal, bordering Gurdaspur in Punjab.

This comes just days after Punjab minister Navjot Sidhu visited Pakistan to attend the oath ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Sidhu had later mentioned that Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa suggested that they were considering opening up the Kartarpur corridor to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev next year.

The 4-km corridor, if opened, would connect Kartarpur Sahib, where Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years, to Dera Baba Nanak Dev in Gurdaspur on the Indian side.

According to sources in Pakistan, the envoy during his visit looked towards the Indian border visible from the gurdwara rooftop, interacted with caretakers and  explored the possibility of the corridor. “We hope to bring this longstanding proposal to fruition with focused follow up and coordination with the Pakistan side. This corridor will have a special appeal and significance for devotees as we celebrate 550 years of Guru Nanak Dev’s birth next year,” Bisaria told The Tribune.

The proposal of the corridor first came up during the Musharraf era, but was never actively followed up.

Sikh pilgrims from India visiting Pakistan have been provided access to Kartarpur Sahib over the years through Wagah and Lahore.

However, a direct corridor from Punjab would be very different. “Kartarpur Sahib was the resting place for Guru Nanak Dev for several years. It will be an important gesture from Pakistan for the pilgrims if it happens. It will be significant for devotees,” said Sarat Sabharwal, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan.

There is no clarity yet on the modalities and logistics under discussion and if the corridor could be opened for a few days next year or for the long term.

Meanwhile, Bisaria who was stopped by the Pakistan authorities from entering gurdwaras, including Nankana Sahib, during recent visits, was accorded a warm welcome at Kartarpur. However, he was not presented a robe of honour (siropa), as per sources.

(Published with thanks from The Tribune)

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