Dismissing reports of Pakistan stalling the Kartarpur Corridor project amid escalating tensions between India and Pakistan following the decision to scrap special status to J&K, a senior official said the Imran Khan government was committed to complete the project before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran, said in a series of tweets that the corridor would be operationalised in November this year as per the schedule and terms of reference finalised with India.
Awan said the place, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, was sacred for Sikhs and the perfect example of interfaith harmony. She asserted that irrespective of the relations between the two neighbouring nations, Pakistan’s doors would always be open to Sikh pilgrims visiting the Darbar Sahib Kartarpur.
“In the world of growing extremism and intolerance, Kartarpur corridor resonates the message of respect and tolerance,” PTI quoted Awan as saying. Awan said Prime Minister Imran Khan was committed to protecting the rights of minorities in Pakistan.
India and Pakistan had last November agreed to build the corridor to enable devotees access and pay obeisance at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib. The corridor will link the Dera Baba Nanak shrine at Gurdaspur in India’s Punjab with the Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, across the Ravi river, about four km away.
Visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims will be facilitated for the devotees who can just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked the special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories on August 5. In response to India’s move, Pakistan had downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi.
The statement comes after a visit by three Punjab ministers to the neighbouring country scheduled last week was put off as clearances were still pending.
Three ministers including Medical Education Minister O P Soni, Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Tourism Minister Charanjit Singh Channi were to visit Pakistan on Thursday. The file sent by Punjab’s tourism department on August 16 to the Union Ministry of External Affairs is stuck as of now.
With just over two months left, uncertainty prevails over the proposed investment by leading British businessmen in infrastructure projects on the Pakistani side of Kartarpur corridor project. British Sikh Association chairman Rami Ranger, in August, told The Indian Express over phone that there will be no investment in Pakistan by the Punjabi diaspora in UK “until relationships between New Delhi and Islamabad becomes cordial”.