–10,000 Sikh pilgrims to stay at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib for two days as PM Imran Khan to lay foundation stone of project
LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan will break ground of the Kartarpur Corridor project in Narowal district on Wednesday, two days after India’s Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone for the construction of the corridor on the Indian side.
The corridor will connect Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, India, with Gurdwara Kartarpur Darbar Sahib on the banks of the River Ravi in Pakistan. Gurdwara Kartarpur Darbar Sahib is a revered site for the Sikh community. Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, lived there for 18 years till his death in 1539.
Lying dormant due to the tense relations between the two countries since 1988, the proposal to construct the corridor providing visa-free access to Sikh pilgrims had been renewed by Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in August this year while talking to Congress leader and Indian Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu during the latter’s visit to Pakistan in August for attending Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony.
Pakistan invited Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Indian Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Navjot Singh Sidhu besides 17 Indian journalists to the groundbreaking ceremony. However, Swaraj excused herself from attending the ceremony, citing “prior commitments” but announced that India’s Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Shri Hardeep Singh Puri will attend the ceremony in Kartarpur as representatives of the Indian government.
Meanwhile, the chief minister of Indian Punjab thanked Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for the invitation but declined it in a letter addressed to the foreign minister.
Earlier on Tuesday, Navjot Singh Sidhu arrived in Pakistan through the Wagah border to attend the groundbreaking ceremony, saying he had brought a “message of peace and love” from India.
10,000 SIKHS TO ATTEND CEREMONY:
Arrangements for the arrival of Sikh pilgrims at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib have been completed.
Govt sources said that 10,000 Sikh pilgrims would stay at the pilgrimage site for two days where they would be provided with all facilities, including accommodation, free meals, security and first aid.
While addressing the Sikh leaders who arrived in Pakistan from India, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to the Sikh community would be a gesture of goodwill and harmony and the opening of Kartarpur crossing has also projected a positive image of Pakistan.
Sikh leader Sardar Amarjeet Singh said, “We appreciate the steps taken by the Pakistani government for the opening of Kartarpur border and the entire Sikh community is indebted to the prime minister for his efforts and they would all pray for his success.”
Talking to Pakistan Today, Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Deputy Administrator Syeda Sumera Rizvi said, “We are looking after all the arrangements with the Narowal commissioner and the district administration. As the premier and Sikh pilgrims are visiting, all necessary arrangements are being made up to the mark. ETPB officials are themselves looking after all the arrangements so that the Sikh community can feel at home and take along good memories of their stay in Pakistan.”
An ETPB spokesperson informed Pakistan Today that all arrangements for the arrival of the prime minister have also been made.
“Since the premier himself is coming to lay foundation stone of the project, a helipad has been prepared and security has been beefed up,” Amir Hashmi said.
Talking to Pakistan Today, ETPB Secretary Tariq Wazir Khan said, “We have renovated the Gurdwara and almost 10,000 pilgrims would be staying there. All arrangements for the cleanliness and maintenance of the Gurdwara have been completed so that the pilgrims can enjoy a comfortable stay in Pakistan.”