With the deadline for 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak is around the corner, Pakistan appears to be dragging its feet on the construction of Kartarpur Sahib corridor to help Sikh pilgrims reach the Gurudwara inside Pakistan where Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life.
From the Indian side, half of construction work on the 4-lane highway stretch of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor is already complete. But Pakistan is nit-picking on building an all-weather bridge on its side despite the deadline of November when the 550th anniversary of the founder of Sikhism is to be observed.
Though Pakistan offered to build a causeway on its side at the May 27 technical expert group meeting on the project which NHAI and other officials warned would leave the catchment area of Ravi river prone to flash floods that can submerge it.
There seems to be a mismatch in highway construction plans on the two sides. As a four-lane highway on the Indian side will meet a two-lane highway on the Pakistan side and an allweather bridge on the Indian side of the zero point will connect to a causeway across the border have been raised repeatedly.
Limited resources and paucity of time before start of celebrations for 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak are the cause of delay from Pak side. This is a far cry from the earnestness which Pakistan was supposed to pursue the project.
“Flooding of causeway will halt the pilgrimage temporarily, which will not be the case if a bridge connects the corridor on both sides,” said a government official. The arguments advanced by Pakistan may be rooted, it is felt here, in concerns over the use of the road in military terms. However, given its short distance and clearly defined path, the fear seems overstated. It is also possible that delays in the corridor may be blamed on India in future.
India has also sought consular presence at Kartarpur Sahib to facilitate the pilgrims, which Pakistan has not agreed to.