By Dr Saeed  Ahmed  Ali

LAHORE, Nov 8 (APP):The name Kartarpur means ‘place of God’; Opening of Kartarpur Corridor is going to be a “unique experiment” in cross-border ties between India and Pakistan.

This is an expert opinion adding “The opening of the corridor would help improve confidence building and must definitely be seen as a positive for Punjab-Punjab ties.

It merits a mention here that the first guru of Sikhism,Guru Nanak, founded Kartarpur in 1504 AD on the right bank of the River Ravi and established the first Sikh commune there.   

Following the death of Guru Nanak in 1539, Hindus and Muslims both claimed him as their own and raised mausoleums in his memory with a common wall between them.

The changing course of the Ravi River eventually washed away the mausoleums. Guru Nanak.     
The Kartarpur Corridor is a border-corridor between Pakistan and India, connecting the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib (located in Punjab, India) and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib (in Punjab, Pakistan). The total distance of this corridor from Pak-india border to the Gurdwara in Kartarpur is 4.7 kilometres (2.9 miles).      

Initially in 2004, the ‘composite dialogue process’ between India and Pakistan was started by discussing the access to Kartarpur, via an Amritsar-Lahore-Kartarpur road link. 
      
Last year on November 26, the foundation stone of Kartarpur Corridor was laid down by the Prime Minister Imran Khan. Now the corridor has been completed for Sikh Pilgrims to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on November 12, 2019.     
   
Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ sources told APP that Kartarpur corridor would open new avenues for cooperation, meaningful and constructive dialogue for resolution of contentious issues between the two countries which remain a distant dream.     
           
They said mistrust on both sides of the border would be mitigated through people-to-people contact, adding that the Sikhs and civil society formations could potentially pressurize the respective governments toward the establishment of further connections such as rail linkages which would increase economic connectivity between the two Punjabs. 
    
Under the agreement on Kartarpur corridor, the pilgrims would come in the morning and return in the evening after visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib. Each visitor would be required to pay US $20 as a service charge, which as per Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal, would only cover one-third of the current operational cost.   
  
The Complex will have an international standard hotel, hundreds of apartments, two commercial areas and two car parking lots, Border Facility Area, a power grid station, tourist information Centre and several offices.     
   
Chairman department of Archaeology Punjab University Dr Muhammad Hameed told APP that the Gurdwara would be the biggest Sikh shrine of the world stretching over four acres of land,besides acres of land around it has been cultivated for gardens.     

He said that the world would witness Kartarpur success as a confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan, in terms of religious tourism and people-to-people contact, it is also a success of para-diplomacy or sub-national diplomacy.   
  
It may be mentioned here that a gold-made ‘Palki, which has also been brought by Sikh pilgrims from India, is  installed at Kartarpur by Governor Punjab Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar.  
    
Prime Minister Imran Khan was working day and night to transform Pakistan as an important economic power in the world, concluded the chief minister, he said. 
     
Lahore-based historian, Fakir Aijaz-ud-Din, said that it was a “unique experiment” in cross-border ties between India and Pakistan. He said that setting up of Guru Nanak University at Nankana Sahib, symbolised by Guru Nanak, would bring the people of all religions together.   
     
“Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, historic steps have been taken in a short period of time with far-reaching effects,”  Fakir added. 
     
Dr. Dalvir Singh Pannu, noted writer of the recently inaugurated book titled,  “The Sikh heritage beyond borders” told APP that the book expressed his special interest and religious passion behind writing the book. He said that Pakistan Sikh heritage land was just like Makkah & Madina for Sikh community of the world.      

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s genuine interest in building peace with India, would help pave the way of chances for dialogue and the commencement of a peace process between the two countries, he added.
       
Dr  Pannu said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has won the hearts of the Sikh community living in India and other parts of the world and this important step, aimed at promoting inter-religious harmony and brotherhood has earned international prestige and honour for Pakistan. In fact, the whole world is unable to present such an example of protection and up-gradation of religious places of minorities.  
  
Dr Dalvir Singh Pannu  said that Kartarpur corridor initiative would help  promote peace, brotherhood and affection in the whole region, adding the corridor will open new ways of exploring Sikh heritage in Pakistan and beyond. 
     
“The opening of the corridor would help improve confidence-building and must definitely be seen as a positive for Punjab-Punjab ties,” he added.
       
He said that the Sikh community in india, particularly from the state of Punjab, who had made several appeals since 1947, to access their holy shrine, the corridor was the realization of their long awaited dream.   
      
The opening of the corridor is being lauded widely. The prime minister Imran Khan boldly decided to go ahead with the corridor project, and termed it as ‘fall of the Berlin Wall’, adding the project would help in easing tensions between the two countries.