On the auspicious occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism and the first of the 10 Sikh Gurus Pakistan opened up the 4 km long Kartarpur corridor which connects India to Kartarpur, Pakistan allowing visa-free access to Indian citizens to the Gurudwara located on the other side of the border. This place Kartarpur houses the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib which is the final resting place of Guru Nanak and hence is amongst the holiest Sikh shrines.
After the partition of India in 1947 many Sikh pilgrimage sites of Punjab became part of the territory of the newly created state of Pakistan. Kartarpur is one amongst many such places. After partition majority Sikhs migrated and settled in India. The partition and the relations between the nations thereafter made it virtually impossible for majority Sikhs to undertake pilgrimage to their holy places on the other side of the border. The Indian government undertook efforts through the past 7 decades to address this concern. During former Prime Minister Late Smt. Indira Gandhi’s tenure the Indian government for the first time mooted a plan to swap land so as to have Kartarpur within the territory of India, although this and all the other plans on the lines of a land swap couldn’t materialise.
Eventually, after decades, our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had the opportunity to thank his Pakistani counterpart Mr. Imran Khan for understanding the sentiments of Indian Sikhs. Here I would say we all join our Prime Minister in thanking the Pakistan government for this gesture of goodwill, especially when the diplomatic relations between the nations have essentially been turbulent. Navjot Singh Sidhu should also be credited for making constructive use of his friendship built during his cricketing days with Imran Khan in favour of opening of this passage.
Throughout history Indian diplomacy has revolved around ensuring peace and creating goodwill in the entire world with special focus on our immediate neighbourhood. Indian government has always kept the doors of India open to the needy Pakistani medical tourists. Even in situations when we were not even on talking terms with the Pakistan government we never stopped anyone from Pakistan who wished to get their ailments treated in Indian hospitals.
With the opening of this corridor both nations have reiterated the message of peace and brotherhood that Guru Nanak gave to the world. Humanity and peace must always be kept above hostility and conflicts and both nations have shown that to the world. This also gives us something good to hold on to even when our diplomatic relations with Pakistan turn sour.
This is an ointment applied to the scars that Cyril Radcliffe led commission gave to the millions of people while drawing the border between India and Pakistan during the partition in 1947.
Thus, I take the liberty to call this passage “The Indo-Pak Goodwill Corridor” .