For millions of Sikhs worldwide, the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor was a dream seven decades in the making. Ever since India and Pakistan were partitioned with an arbitrary line drawn through Punjab, the placement of Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak spent his last years, meant that while a majority of his devotees were left on one side of the border, his last resting place was left just four kilometres on the other side. Unlike the other major Sikh shrine at Guru Nanak’s birthplace Nankana Sahib, Kartarpur Sahib was off Pakistan’s highways and therefore fell into disuse. Those keen to see it were restricted to peering through binoculars at a border checkpost.
Saturday’s inauguration of the renovated shrine in Kartarpur by Prime Minister Imran Khan, and the access to the corridor from Sultanpur Lodhi on the Indian side by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saw the fervent hopes of all those people being granted, timed with the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The corridor, which will allow 5,000 Indian pilgrims a day to walk visa-free into Pakistan, pay obeisance and then return to India, is unique.
What can be done?
If both governments are willing, it could lend itself to other cross-border connections for Hindus and Sikhs to visit shrines in Pakistan, and for Muslims and Sufism followers to visit shrines just across the border in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
That it was completed from start to finish in a year that saw relations between the two countries plumb new depths, is also nothing short of a miracle: from the Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot strikes; the slugfest over the government’s moves on Kashmir; the recall of High Commissioners; and even Pakistan’s repeated denial of overflight rights to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aircraft on foreign visits, it was a downward spiral. Each event was accompanied by sharp rhetoric and recriminations, yet the Kartarpur process was not derailed.
Source: The Hindu
Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper II; IOBR