Sikh community begins historic pilgrimage to Pakistan with the opening of Kartarpur
Prime Minister Imran Khan formally inaugurated the historic Kartarpur Corridor at a ceremony on Saturday, paving the way for the visa-free visit of Indian Sikh pilgrims to one of their holiest sites in Pakistan.
PM Imran Khan, covering his head as a mark of respect, began his speech by welcoming the Sikh community to Kartapur “First of all, I congratulate the Sikh community on the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak and welcome you all.” Then he paid tribute to the government team tasked to make the decades-old dream a reality in a record time of nine months.
In his speech, PM Imran Khan urged Indian Prime Minister Modi to resolve Kashmir issue. “When this problem is solved and Kashmiris get their rights, the sub-continent will see prosperity and our entire region will rise in the world, and I pray that day is not far,” he stated.
‘Imran Khan has won hearts’: Sidhu
Former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu thanked PM Imran for taking the bold step to open the historic Kartarpur Corridor and winning the hearts of 140 million Sikhs around the world. “No benefit or loss was weighed. No deals were considered. My faithful friend (PM Imran) did this for the love of God” he said. “You have won hearts.”
“Four generations of Sikhs were deprived [of the opporunuty to visit the most revered Sikh site]. For the first time a government has [opened access to Kartarpur] for 140 million Sikhs. Alexander won the world through fear and terror. Imran Khan you are the Alexander who has won the world’s hearts and you rule them all.”
Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri in his speech said the opening of the Kartapur Corridor is “the biggest message of peace and love” since Partition.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi welcomed the members of the Sikh community across the world and said: “The doors of Kartarpur have been opened for you.”
He asked Indian Prime Minister Modi, who had earlier in the day thanked Prime Minister Imran, to also give his Pakistani counterpart the chance to thank him. “You can do so .. by lifting the curfew in occupied Kashmir, ending the use of pellet guns, ending the violations of human rights [and] by ending the communication blackout.”
The opening of the peace corridor comes just days before the Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday on November 12 – an event of huge significance for the global Sikh community.
Devotees from all over the world, including the UK, Canada, US and UAE, are visiting for the celebrations.
Kartarpur corridor can accommodate up to 5,000 pilgrims per day, with up to 10,000 able to visit the shrine every day.