Prayers of Sikhs answered

  • The opening of the Kartarpur corridor sends a powerful message worldwide

The inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor by Prime Minister Imran Khan on the eve of the 550th birthday of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, was indeed a historic event for the 140 million Sikh community in India and the Sikh diaspora in other countries around the world, who for the last 72 years had persistently prayed and hoped for their free access to one of their holiest places in Pakistan– Kartarpur where the Guru spent the last 18 years of his life. Their prayers were finally answered. It is said that there are two most stupendous forces in this world, faith and fear, and faith is stronger than fear. Religion takes care of the worldly and spiritual aspect of human lives. People seek solace and comfort to create balance in their lives from their respective scriptures, saints and their spiritual guides like Guru Nanak, which explains the intensity of their devotion to them. The Sikhs hold Guru Nanak in the highest esteem and visiting the holy places associated with him is an integral part of their faith.

The elation and gratitude of the Sikh community over this unprecedented initiative by Prime Minister Imran Khan and the COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was immensely evident from the remarks made by Navjot Sidhu on behalf of the Sikh Community and their other leaders. The implementation of the project by Pakistan government in spite of the initial reluctance by the Indian government in regards to its implementation is in the best Islamic traditions of religious tolerance and interfaith harmony. The step taken by Pakistan government in the absence of any reciprocal gesture by India and in spite of the Indian atrocities in Kashmir and the unpalatable decision of the Indian Supreme Court to award the Babri Mosque land to Hindus has reinforced the credentials of the country as a religiously tolerant entity wedded to its humanitarian ethos.

India by acting as a war-like state in pursuance of the RSS philosophy of Hindutva is actually not only jeopardizing the regional peace and security, but also undermining communal harmony within its own borders which ultimately will harm her own interests

The move has also been widely appreciated by the international community. Pakistani nation can rightly feel proud of it. In that context it also represented a diplomatic triumph for Pakistan. The opening of the corridor could well become a milestone for peace and may even set new trends for granting people of faith a free access to their sacred spaces, which incidentally is denied to the people of Kashmir right now who are under siege for more than 100 days.

Providing visa-free access to millions of Sikhs to their holiest sites also augurs well for Pakistan. The Sikh community is connected to this land through an unbreakable cord of spirituality, as most of their sacred places are situated on our side of the border, equally valuable to us as our precious heritage. It was also befitting that Pakistan issued commemorative coins and stamps on the occasions and took steps to establish the Guru Nanak University at Nankana Sahib. Guru Nanak was a saint who was equally revered by Sikhs and Muslims as is evident from his last rites, performed by both Muslims and Sikhs. Iqbal called him ‘mard-e-kamil’ (a perfect man) who raised India out of slumber. India also needs to emulate the example set by Pakistan by allowing easy access to the Muslims from Pakistan and other communities to visit their sacred sites in India by simplifying the rigorous procedure in force to deal with such requests.

The inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor in a way is also a gesture towards India for burying the past and making a new beginning for peaceful co-existence by resolving the mutual disputes, including the core issue of Kashmir which have bedeviled relations between the two countries at the cost of regional peace and security. Prime Minister Imran Khan was right on money while addressing the Kartarpur ceremony to urge Indian PM Narendra Modi to do justice to the people of Kashmir to create conditions for peaceful co-existence and peace in the region which is so essential to fight poverty and changing the economic profile of the teeming millions on both sides of the border. This could happen only when the Modi government understands and recognizes the ground realities. India by acting as a war-like state in pursuance of the RSS philosophy of Hindutva is actually not only jeopardizing the regional peace and security, but also undermining communal harmony within its own borders which ultimately will harm her own interests.

This region badly needs peace and amity between the two nuclear neighbours. Continued hostility between them is fraught with dangerous consequences. Kashmiris are fighting for their right of self-determination as enshrined in the UN resolutions. Their movement for independence cannot be suppressed through decrees ending special status of the state and by the barrel of the gun. They have been fighting for their independence and right to self-determination since 1989 and the Indian forces have not been able to kill their spirit despite assassinating more than 100,000 Kashmiris since then. That is a reality staring the Modi government in the face.

India for sure has not been able to sell its contention of situation in Kashmir being its internal matter, as is evident from the reaction of the global community and the UNSC which reiterated that the Kashmir issue needed to be resolved in conformity with the UN resolutions and bilateral agreements in that regard. It was time for the world community and the UN to move beyond merely showing concern on the developing situation in Indian-Occupied Kashmit and to fulfill their obligation towards the people of Kashmir by pressurizing India to grant the right of self-determination to them. Indian intransigence not to recognize the ground realities and continued denial of the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir could have very disastrous consequences for the region and beyond. Two nuclear states standing face to face with each other in regards to Kashmir also presents a dreadful spectacle and underlines the urgency for the world body and the international community to act before it is too late.