LAHORE – The Sikh community in Pakistan, India and Europe has warmly welcomed Pakistan government’s decision to open the Kartarpur border to facilitate the Sikh pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.
Administrator Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur-Shakargarh, Giyani Gobind Singh told the visiting Sialkot-based journalists that the early opening of Pak-India border was on the cards.
He said that visa-free entry of the Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib would be a great facility for the Sikh pilgrims.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Friday that his country will soon open the Kartarpur border crossing with India for Sikh pilgrims to visit a historic gurdwara there without visas, PTI reported quoting BBC Urdu.
In an interview to BBC Urdu, the Pakistani minister said that a system was being developed for Sikhs to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, adding “soon some forward movement is expected”.
“Pakistan will soon open the border at Kartarpur for Sikh pilgrims and the pilgrims will be able to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur without visas,” Fawad Chaudhry said.
Kartarpur based gurdwara is revered by Sikhs due to the belief that the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak died there.
It is located in Narowal district of Punjab province near the Indian border.
The first indication of opening the crossing was given by Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa when he met Congress politician Navjot Singh Sidhu in Islamabad during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Defending his hug with Bajwa, Sidhu had said last month that he was overwhelmed when told that Pakistan was making efforts to allow access to Kartarpur Sahib.
Navjot Singh Sidhu asks Sushma Swaraj to make ‘positive move’ on Kartarpur gurdwara corridor
Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday wrote to Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, requesting the government to take a “positive step” on the issue of the Kartarpur gurdwara corridor.
Undeterred by BJP criticism over his praise of Prime Minister Imran Khan on the issue, Sidhu expressed confidence that the corridor would bring in peace between both India and Pakistan.
“It is time for India to take a positive step on this highly emotional issue. When opportunity knocks, kindly step up and open the door. The opening of this corridor will be a huge thing for the Sikh community all over the world. The corridor can usher in peace and prosperity between the two countries,” Sidhu said in a letter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj that was released to the media on Sunday.
“Pakistan has shown a positive intent towards the long-pending corridor demand. Some positivity came out when I visited Pakistan for the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan. Now their Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary has categorically said that the corridor will be opened and even visas won’t be required to visit the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara as part of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev. It is time for India to take a positive step on this highly emotional issue,” Sidhu said in the letter.
Sidhu pointed out that after Partition in August 1947, several historical gurdwaras fell in Pakistan territory, including the Katarpur Sahib gurdwara associated with Guru Nanak Dev.
“Since then, Sikhs living in India always pray that they should be able to pay obeisance at the gurdwaras across the border. Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara holds great significance as it is the place where Guru Nanak Dev spent almost 18 years. The gurdwara is very close to the international border,” he pointed out.
Sidhu said that thousands of devotees in India visit Dera Baba Nanak area in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district daily just to catch a glimpse of this holy shrine through binoculars arranged by the Border Security Force.
“With Pakistan showing a positive intent, the common belief is that this can turn into reality. Appropriate steps on the corridor must be taken due to strong Sikh sentiments attached to it. Hoping for a positive response from you,” he added.