Chandigarh: Expressing his gratitude to the central government over its initiative to develop the proposed Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan, Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday hoped that the corridor would “yield undeniable and implicit change and thaw” in the relations, adding that it will “build bridges, burn animosity and will act as a soothing balm for two neighbouring countries.”
In a letter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Sidhu wrote, “It fills my heart with joy unspeakable on learning that the Government of India has agreed to build a corridor for pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib on 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. As a Sikh devotee and as a man committed to the cause of Punjab and its people, I am extremely grateful and indebted for the steps initiated by the Government of India.”
He said that the Kartarpur corridor has been a “long-standing demand of the Sikh community across the globe” and the recent step taken by the Centre “has brought a new ray of hope among pilgrims who anxiously await to pay obeisance at the historical Gurudwara Sahib across the border.”
Recalling his meeting with Swaraj a few months ago, Sidhu added that he asked the central government to take up the issue of developing the corridor with Pakistan.
“During my visit to Pakistan, I was made aware about intent of Pakistan for opening the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on 550th Parkash Utsav celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and this was further authenticated by Information Minister of Pakistan Fawad Chaudhary and yesterday the Foreign Affairs Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi further augmented the fact that the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan is set to lay foundation stone for the corridor on their side on 28 November 2018,” Sidhu wrote in the letter.
Underscoring that the positive steps by both the countries are “a great respite for the followers of Guru’s (Nanak Dev) timeless teachings, and for the people of Punjab”, the cricketer-turned-politician further said, “I wish that the Government of India writes formally to Pakistan on visa and other related issues for easy passage for pilgrims once the corridor is complete.”
Earlier today, Sidhu took credit for the Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan saying that it was his hug to Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa during his visit to Khan’s swearing-in ceremony in August that pushed the Centre to take initiative in developing the proposed corridor.
On Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a Note Verbale to the Pakistan government urging it to develop a corridor with suitable facilities in its territory from the International Border to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.
The cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved to build and develop the proposed corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the International Border. This would allow pilgrims from India to visit Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur.
Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan had turned controversial when he hugged General Bajwa during Khan’s oath-taking ceremony drawing flak from various quarters.