Pak PM lays foundation stone for Kartarpur corridor
Kartarpur, Nov 28 : Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday laid the foundation stone for a corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur - the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev - to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district to facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims.
Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. It was established by the Sikh Guru in 1522. The first Gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was built here, where Guru Nanak Dev is said to have died.
The Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, is expected to be completed within six months.
The development comes ahead of Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary next year.
Thousands of Sikh devotees from India visit Pakistan every year to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
India had proposed the corridor to Pakistan around 20 years back.
India was represented by Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri at the event. Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu also attended the ceremony.
Last week, Pakistan and India announced that they would develop the corridor on their respective side of the border to help Indian pilgrims visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.
India-Pakistan ties nose-dived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place. The ties between the two countries had strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016.
Pakistan had invited External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who thanked her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi for the invite and said she was unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib due to prior commitments.
The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of his cricketer-turned-politician friend Imran Khan as prime minister of that country.
After his return, Sidhu said that Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had told him that Pakistan may open a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib.
Sidhu has already arrived in Lahore with a group of Indian journalists to attend the ground breaking ceremony on Wednesday.
Chronology of Kartarpur corridor
Kartarpur, Nov 28 : The following is the chronology of events leading up to the foundation laying for the corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district to facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims:
1522: The first Gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was established by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev, where he is believed to have died.
February 1999: The Kartarpur Sahib corridor was proposed by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he took a bus ride to Lahore during a peace initiative with Pakistan.
2000: Pakistan agrees to allow Sikh pilgrims from India to visit the shrine visa-free (and without passport) by constructing a bridge from the India side of the border to the shrine.
August 2018: Punjab minister Navjot Sidhu attends Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's swearing-in ceremony.
August 2018: Upon his return from Islamabad, Sidhu says that Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa informed him that the Pakistan government would open the Dera Baba Nanak (Kartarpur) corridor on Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary.
November 22: Indian Cabinet approves the Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to the Pakistan border.
November 26: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu lays the foundation stone of the Dera Baba Nanak - Kartarpur Sahib Corridor (up to the International Border) at an event at Mann village of Gurdaspur district of Punjab.
November 28: Prime Minister Imran Khan lays the foundation stone of the 4-km corridor which is expected to be completed by next year.
November 28: Khan assures Sikh community that facilities at Kartarpur will be better for 550th birth celebrations for Guru Nanak Dev.