90% work completed on Kartarpur Corridor


LAHORE: Pakistan has completed 90 per cent work on the Kartarpur Corridor including the construction of the main road, bridge and buildings from zero line to Gurdwara Sahib ahead of its launch in November. The first batch of pilgrims from India will arrive in Pakistan on November 9. The number of visitors had not yet been specified.
From the Pakistani side of the border, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa are likely to inaugurate the corridor on the occasion of Baba Guru Nanak’s anniversary in November. The Kartarpur crossing will link Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab with Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.
Both sides have agreed to maintain a channel of communication and work towards finalisation of the agreement. The technical teams will meet again to ensure seamless connectivity for the corridor is operational in time so that the pilgrimage can begin in November this year. The corridor, once operational, will provide visa-free access to Sikhs from India to their holiest Shrine located inside Pakistan. This will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two nuclear-armed neighbours since their independence in 1947.
The proposal has been in the works for over two decades. However, it only began to take shape when in August the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that Pakistan was planning to open the corridor. In November, PM Imran performed the groundbreaking ceremony to build a four km long corridor at Kartarpur. The ceremony was attended by the premier’s friend and former Indian cricketer Navjaot Singh Sidhu. Since then, the construction work has been under way with some pace as authorities are working overnight to meet the deadline.
Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, considered the holiest place in Sikh religion because it is the last resting place of Baba Guru Nanak, is located in Narowal, only 4 kilometres away from the Indian border. The shrine is visible from the Indian side of the border and every day a larger number of Sikh devotees gather to perform Darshan or sacred viewings of the site.
The two sides continued talks on the corridor despite their February 27 military standoff. India, which otherwise refused to engage with Pakistan, is finding it hard to run away from the Kartarpur initiative given the religious sentiments of Indian Sikhs attached to the corridor.
Some are concerned that given the hostility between the two countries, the opening of the corridor may face a delay. But Pakistan is hopeful that the corridor will become functional on the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November this year.

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