Bridging 72 years with 9-km road: PM Modi, Imran Khan throw open Kartarpur Corridorhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/kartarpur-corridor-opens-pm-modi-imran-express-gratitude-manmohan-leads-first-jatha-6111919/

Bridging 72 years with 9-km road: PM Modi, Imran Khan throw open Kartarpur Corridor

"I thank Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi. He understood India's feelings on the Kartarpur corridor issue, gave respect (to it) and, worked keeping in view those feelings," PM Modi said.

Kartarpur Corridor opens: PM Modi, Imran express gratitude; Manmohan leads first jatha
Gurdaspur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor here and flagged off the first batch of over 500 Indian pilgrims. (Source: Twitter/NarendraModi)

Bridging 72 years with a 9 km road, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor on Saturday from either side of the border amid frayed ties on the backdrop of India scrapping special status to Kashmir.

On the inaugural day, 562 pilgrims, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, his wife Gursharan Kaur, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Sing and Union ministers Hardeep Puri, crossed over to Pakistan to offer prayers at the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.

WATCH | Significance of the Kartarpur corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrims

Flagging off the first batch of over 500 pilgrims in Gurdaspur, PM Modi thanked Imran Khan, saying the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor has brought immense happiness. “I thank Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi. He understood India’s feelings on the Kartarpur corridor issue, gave respect (to it) and, worked keeping in view those feelings,” Modi said.

On his part, Imran Khan raked up the Kashmir issue at the inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor and said ensuring “justice” to Kashmiris would open new channels of communication between India and Pakistan. The Kartarpur Corridor was inaugurated as part of the celebration to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

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PM Khan understood India’s feelings on Kartarpur corridor: Modi

After landing in Sultanpur’s Lodhi, PM Modi paid obeisance at the Gurdwara Ber Sahib and inaugurated the passenger terminal building, also called the Integrated Check Post, where pilgrims are supposed to get clearance to travel through the Corridor.

Kartarpur Corridor opens: PM Modi, Imran express gratitude; Manmohan leads first jatha
Gurdaspur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inauguration of the passenger terminal building of the Kartarpur corridor on the Indian side, also known as Integrated Check Post, in Gurdaspur, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. (Source: Twitter/Narendramodi)

Asserting that he was fortunate to be able to dedicate the Kartarpur corridor to the country, PM Modi said the opening of the corridor and the integrated check post would bring double happiness to the people.

While former prime minister Manmohan Singh called the corridor’s opening a “big moment”, Parkash Singh Badal described it as the happiest day in his life.

Imran Khan: Not only opening border, but our hearts for Sikh community

On his part, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the opening of the Kartarpur corridor was a testimony to Pakistan’s commitment to regional peace and expressed happiness on being able to do this for the Sikh

“We believe that the road to prosperity of region and bright future of our coming generation lies in peace. Today we are not only opening the border, but also our hearts for the Sikh community,” Khan said.

A man taking a selfie front of Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara on 9th nov. 2019. (Express photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi)

Earlier in the day, Imran Khan welcomed the first batch of the Indian Sikh pilgrims who entered Pakistan through the corridor that links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur. Khan shook hands with Manmohan and exchanged pleasantries.

SEE PHOTOS | Kartarpur corridor thrown open, 562 pilgrims visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib on day 1

In his address, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the doors of Kartarpur have been opened for Sikh pilgrims. “If the Berlin Wall can be demolished, if the Kartarpur Corridor can be opened, then the temporary boundary of the Line of Control can also be ended,” Qureshi said, raking up the Kashmir issue during his address on the occasion.

Good beginning, hope it will normalise relations: Manmohan Singh

After visiting Kartarpur Corridor, former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “It was a good beginning, India-Pakistan relations are subject to many buts and ifs, I hope this is a good beginning to normalise our relations.”

Kartarpur Corridor opens: PM Modi, Imran express gratitude; Manmohan leads first jatha
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh while crossing over to visit Kartarpur Sahib (Express photo)

Voicing similar hope, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also said that the visit was a good experience and said that he hoped for the Corridor to become a corridor of peace between the two countries.

Navjot Singh Sidhu thanks ‘yaar dildaar’ Imran Khan

Punjab Congress MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had “won hearts” by inaugurating the Kartarpur Corridor. Sidhu was speaking at the inauguration event on the Pakistan side of the border which he attended as a special invitee of Imran Khan.

Kartarpur
Pakistan PM Imran Khan with Punjab MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu and Gurdaspur MP Sunny Deol. (Express photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi)

Sidhu also thanked Narendra Modi for making the project happen, saying he was sending a “Munnabhai MBBS style hug” to the Prime Minister. “No one can deny my friend Imran Khan’s contribution. I am thanking Modi ji also, it doesn’t matter if we have political differences, doesn’t matter if my life is dedicated to Gandhi family, I am sending a Munnabhai MBBS style hug to you Modi sahab for this,” Sidhu said.

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Reciting Urdu couplets in his speech, Sidhu added: “For the first time since Partition, the fence has been broken down, ab border kholo, dil kholo,” Sidhu was quoted as saying in Punjabi amid slogans of ‘Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal’.

-with agency inputs from PTI, ENS and Dawn