Pakistan opens visa-free Kartarpur Corridor for Sikh pilgrims

09:41 AM | 9 Nov, 2019

NAROWAL - Prime Minister Imran Khan, who envisioned a year ago the construction of Kartarpur Corridor between Pakistan and India, inaugurated the facility which will allow visa-free entry to Sikh pilgrims from India into Gurdwara Dera Sahib at Kartarpur.

Addressing a large gathering, Khan expressed optimism that resolution of Kashmir dispute will bring prosperity and result in uplifting of entire South Asian region besides improvement in bilateral relations between India and Pakistan.

Imran Khan said when he assumed power, he sent a message to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that we should resolve the bilateral issues to eradicate poverty by opening borders and promoting trade. He, however, regretted that this message was not reciprocated and what is happening in Kashmir today is beyond the issue of territory.

"More than eighty million people are besieged and it has become a humanitarian issue," the premier said, adding no peace can come unless issue of Kashmir is resolved through dialogue.

Khan also sent a message to Modi to give justice to Kashmiris, saying the benefits reaped by the people of both India and Pakistan will be immense after the resolution of Kashmir issue.

Earlier, the Prime Minister visited different sections of Gurdawara Darbar Sahib and he was briefed about its renovation. This has now become the world's largest Sikh Gurdawara.

On arrival at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the Prime Minister shook hand with former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and exchanged views with him. He also met former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu.

The Corridor in Narowal district of Pakistan was opened on the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev Ji beginning from Tuesday.   

Dubbed as ‘Zero Point’, the Corridor includes a bridge stretches for one-kilometre over the Ravi River flowing between the two countries.

The inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor coincides with the birthday of Pakistan’s national poet and philosopher Allama Dr Muhammad Iqbal, who in his poem ‘Nanak’ written in book Baang-e-Dara, holds the Sikh spiritual leader in high esteem for his monotheist beliefs.

The landmark project initiated on the directives of Imran Khan as a peace-building measure for the region and to promote interfaith harmony is entirely funded and executed by Pakistan as a gift for the Sikh community. 

Prime Minister Imran Khan, as a mark of utmost facilitation, has waived off the condition of passport and the fee for pilgrims, who are visiting Pakistan, on the day of the inauguration of the corridor and Guru JI's birthday, the Radio Pakistan reported.

On the opening day today, the first batch of 10,000 Sikh pilgrims performed their rituals within the compound of the Gurdwara after seven decades.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said under the 1974 agreement with New Delhi regarding religious pilgrims, about five thousand pilgrims will come from India later whereas our missions abroad have issued the same number of visas. He said the pilgrims from different countries including Canada, Britain, America, Singapore, Malaysia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, New Zealand and Australia will attend the inauguration ceremony.