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A Passage to peace

Filed on November 10, 2019
A Passage to peace
The Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, in Pakistan.

Kartarpur Corridor Project

The Kartarpur corridor is a new entry point giving access to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan.

Kartarpur, about 118km from Lahore in Narowal district, lies on the banks of the Ravi River. It's where Guru Nanak lived for 18 years before he died there in 1539.

India and Pakistan signed a deal at Zero Point, the international border between the two countries, that will allow pilgrims from India to visit one of Sikhism's holiest shrines in Pakistan without a visa.

The corridor that opens today leads from the border straight to the gurdwara.

Inaugural events for the Kartarpur Corridor will be held on both sides of the border today. While the corridor will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Indian side, his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan will declare it open at the other end.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib

The present shrine was built in 1925 after the original one was destroyed by floods.

The shrine, located around 4km from the border with India, is believed to have been built on the site where Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, died in the 16th Century.

The gurdwara was built to commemorate the site where Guru Nanak settled after his missionary work. He assembled a Sikh community there and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539. The gurdwara is built where Guru Nanak is said to have died.

Work in progress

The Kartarpur Corridor was first proposed in early 1999 by the former Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, respectively, as part of the Delhi-Lahore Bus diplomacy.

On November 26, 2018, the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor was laid down on the Indian side. Two days later, the foundation stone was laid down on the Pakistani side. The corridor is complete for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on November 12, 2019.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, compared the decision to go ahead with the corridor by the two countries to the fall of the Berlin Wall, saying that the project may help in easing tensions between the two countries.

Currently pilgrims from India have to take a bus to Lahore to get to Kartarpur, which is a 125-km journey although people on the Indian side of the border can physically see Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the Pakistani side. An elevated platform has also been constructed for the same on the Indian side, where people use binoculars to get a good view. 

Financial Upside

Officials have said that the corridor will be able to accommodate up to 5,000 pilgrims per day, and up to 10,000 will be able to visit the shrine every day. Islamabad will be charging $20 from every Sikh devotee visiting Pakistan. This means Pakistan will be earning revenue of more than $100,000 per day as it has agreed to allow 5,000 pilgrims to crossover to Narowal district in Pakistan's Punjab. Thus, monthly revenue of $3,000,000 will fill into its treasury.

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