PM Imran Khan to lay foundation stone of Kartarpur corridor today

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The Kartarpur corridor, which will facilitate visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is expected to be completed within six months, Pakistan foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said on Tuesday.

Elaborate arrangements have been made at Narowal in Pakistan for the groundbreaking ceremony of a religious corridor between Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, and Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of Punjab.

According to Pak media reports, Prime Minister Imran Khan will perform groundbreaking of the corridor on the Pakistani side on Wednesday, which will be attended by a host of dignitaries from both the countries. The foundation stone of the corridor on the Indian side, from Dera Baba Nanak to the International Border, was laid on Monday by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu.

Pakistan Punjab chief minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has arranged a special dinner for the guests on Wednesday, Dunya News reported. The Kartarpur corridor, which will facilitate visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is expected to be completed within six months, Pakistan foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said on Tuesday.

While cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal and Amritsar MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla have already reached Pakistan for the ceremony, Union ministers Hasimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Puri will reach Narowal on Wednesday.

Hailing the opening of the corridor, people on both sides of the border say it has the potential to bring “hope and peace” between the two countries. “We have fought a lot in the last 70 years. There was no gain from those fights by either India or Pakistan. It is now time we begin a new journey and the Katarpur corridor has the potential to bring peace,” says Abbas Khan, a 60-year-old Pakistan trader, a resident of Narowal.

Another Pakistani citizen, Bilal Mohammed, who is from Lahore, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an influential leader and both he and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan can bring changes in the bilateral relations if they want. “It will be a corridor of hope and peace. We must initiate similar efforts to normalise ties between the two countries,” he said.

Many Indian residents at the Attari-Wagha border also welcomed the move by both the countries to build the corridor in their respective areas.

“It has been our demand for a long-long time and the governments of both the countries have now decided to roll out the project. We are ecstatic,” said 35-year-old Manjeet Singh. “The corridor will boost tourism and it will be beneficial for us. It will help us economically. The face of the areas may change because of the corridor,” said Ranjita Singh, a college student.

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