Kartarpur Corridor hits snag as Modi govt eyes political gain

Published: June 16, 2019
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Sikhs around the world worried over New Delhi’s delaying tactics. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Sikhs around the world worried over New Delhi’s delaying tactics. PHOTO: EXPRESS

LAHORE: Sikhs all over the world are worried over India deliberately delaying the construction of the Kartarpur Corridor.

Pakistan and India are yet finalise modalities for the construction of the corridor that is aimed at easing travel for Indian pilgrims visiting one of the holiest sites of the Sikh faith in Pakistan.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib – located in the Kartarpur area of Narowal district of Punjab – is the final resting place of the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Devji, and one of the holiest shrines of the Sikh community.

Accord on Kartarpur Corridor likely after Indian polls

Pakistan has completed about 60% construction of the project. However, on the other side of the border, work on Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak in India is being carried out at a snail’s pace.

According to sources, the corridor is unlikely to be completed on time because of the internal strife and politics of India.

However, there are chances that the corridor may see a ceremonial opening by November this year.

While Pakistan is making serious progress in the development of the corridor, the two sides have been unable to chalk out a joint strategy on the project because of the delay tactics on part of the Indian government.

Pakistan in its budget for the new fiscal year has proposed an allocation of Rs1 billion for the construction of the corridor. The overall cost of the project remains in excess of Rs12 billion.

Pakistan intends to open up the corridor before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak this November.

According to senior Indian analyst and journalist Ravinder Singh Roban, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India does not want to let go off the Kartarpur Corridor card.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishes to deprive cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and the government of Indian Punjab of the credit of playing a key role in the project.

BJP MP and Bollywood actor Sunny Deol visited Dera Baba Nanak on Saturday and informed the Sikh community about the Modi government’s commitment to the project.

Gopal Singh Chawla, the general secretary of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, said Sikhs all over the world wanted the completion of the project on time so that they could visit Pakistan on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

“We will try to ensure that the event [birth anniversary] remains aloof from politics,” he added.

He said the Prabandhak Committee was working for the timely completion of the project as per the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Ravinder Singh Roban, in a telephonic conversation with The Express Tribune, lauded Pakistan’s gesture of awarding visas to 10,000 Sikhs.
“We hope that the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak will play a key role in bringing the two countries closer,” he added.

“The measures taken by the two sides should not be seen skeptically.”
Officials from Pakistan and India met at the Attari border on March 14 this year to discuss the formulation of a joint strategy for development of the Kartarpur Corridor.

After the first phase of deliberations, the next meeting was scheduled to be held in Pakistan but India abruptly postponed a meeting scheduled for April 2. However, technical experts of the two countries have held three meetings so far.

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