While the union cabinet announced the development of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor on Thursday, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi compared it with the Berlin Wall that divided East and West Germany before it was pulled down in 1989.
Modi stated that if the ‘wall’ could fall, the proposed ‘Kartarpur Corridor’ could act as a bridge between the people of India and Pakistan and hoped that the corridor might lead to a better future ahead between the ‘so called friend’ countries.
Underlining the strength of people-to-people contact, PM Modi said, “Had anyone ever thought that the Berlin Wall would fall. May be with the blessings of Guru Nanak Devji, this Kartarpur corridor will not just remain a corridor, but act as a bridge between the peoples of the two countries”. He spelled those words at Gurupurab function at the residence of Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal in New Delhi.
Kartarpur Sahib, a Sikh place of worship where Guru Nanak is believed to have spent the last 18 years of his life. It is situated across Ravi river in Narowal district which is in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
There have been long pending demands from Sikh community to build a corridor linking it with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of Punjab. According to the community, the corridor once built, will give Indian pilgrims easy access to the shrine in Kartarpur.
The Indian union cabinet approved the development of the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to the International Border on Thursday. The Ministry of External Affairs of India also sent a communication to the Pakistan government, urging it to develop a corridor with suitable facilities in its territory from the International Border to the historic Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.
Hours later india’s proposal to develop the corridor, Pakistan welcomed the move and conveyed its decision to open the Kartarpur corridor.
Pakistan information and broadcasting minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted, “It is a step in the right direction and we hope such steps will encourage voice of reason and tranquillity on both sides of the border”.
The Pakistan government agreed to open the Kartarpur Corridor for Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in 2019.
While Pakistan ministry applauded Modi’s decision, PM Modi further stated that when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he ordered to re-construct the sacred place where Guru Nanak’s ‘padukaon’ had been kept. The place had got damaged due to earthquake. Today, it has become a site of ‘World Heritage’. With the blessing of Guru Nanak Dev-ji, Kartarpur Corridor is not only a corridor, it also could be a reason to connect people, he added.
Significantly, the Prime Minister made these remarks after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) accused Islamabad of harassing Indian diplomats and denying them access to Indian pilgrims visiting gurdwaras Nankana Sahib and Sacha Sauda Sahib in Pakistan. Lodging a strong protest and expressing ‘grave concern’, the MEA accused Pakistan of promoting “secessionist tendencies” and produced photographs and videos of pro-Khalistan posters at these gurdwaras. South Block sources said these were shared as evidence with the Pakistan High Commission and officials of the Foreign Ministry.
Further the source added, “While on the one side, Pakistan is trying to show its human face by allowing Indian pilgrims, on the other side it is promoting secessionist tendencies in India. It is openly inciting communal harmony and secessionist tendencies as can be seen from the number of posters, statements and procession with Khalistan flags today at Nankana Sahib”.