MeraNews Network, New Delhi: Union Ministers Hardeep Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu attended the ground-breaking ceremony of Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan on Wednesday. The corridor will facilitate the visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor at Narowal, around 120 km from Lahore, along with Puri and Badal. Khan said that all facilities will be provided to the pilgrims at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib visiting from India. Earlier, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor in Indian side up to the international border with Pakistan at village Mann in Gurdaspur district of Punjab on Monday.
Speaking on the occasion, Badal said that it is a historic day for the Sikh community and expressed hope that peace will prevail between the two countries. She added that the Kartapur corridor will spread the message of peace and harmony among people of the two sides. Navjot Singh Sidhu, a minister in the Punjab government said that India and Pakistan should realize that there is a need to move forward. He and Imran Khan praised each other and their efforts to bring both the countries together, in their speeches In a statement, Puri said that he felt extremely grateful and privileged to be able to make this pilgrimage. He also expressed gratitude to the Pakistan government and said that this was a long-standing demand of the Sikh community.
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that the Kartarpur corridor initiative is not connected with the dialogue process with Pakistan. Addressing a press conference in Hyderabad on Wednesday, Swaraj said, talks can start the moment Islamabad stops terror activities in India. The Minister reiterated India's stand that talks and terror cannot go together. She said, unless and until Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, there will be no dialogue and New Delhi will not participate in the SAARC summit. Swaraj was reacting to Pakistan's statement saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be invited to the SAARC summit. Swaraj said, India has been asking for the Kartarpur corridor for many years and she was happy that Pakistan had for the first time responded positively.
The Union Cabinet had, last week, approved the building and development of the corridor to commemorate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev next year. The corridor, once built, will give Indian pilgrims easy access to the shrine. Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib was established by the Sikh Guru in 1522. It is the place where Guru Nanak Dev is said to have breathed his last. Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometers from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.