The Government of Pakistan has fulfilled a long-awaited demand of the Sikh community and Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to inaugurate today the extended Gurdwara Darbar Sahib and the Kartarpur Corridor.
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, situated in Kartarpur, is the second holiest place for the Sikh community. This is 120 km away from Lahore and situated in a small village of Kotheypind at the bank of River Ravi — at a distance of only 4 km from Pakistan-India border.
This village is included in Shakargarh tehsil of Narowal district and the beautiful white Gurdwara looks elegantly placed between the grasslands.
It has been said in the agreement reached between Pakistan and India that daily five thousand Sikh yatris (pilgrims) will be allowed to visit the Gurdwara through the Corridor.
To facilitate the Sikh yatris, the government has installed 130 counters, where their passports will be confirmed or scanned, and permit will be verified.
Pilgrims will be charged $20 each under service charges. However, they will be exempted from paying the charges on the day of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.
After their immigration process is completed, the pilgrims will reach the Gurdwara by bus through the 4km-long Corridor.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) expressed 'deep concern' over the the Babri Masjid verdict, on Saturday.
A press release from the MoFA stated that the decision had exposed how minorities in India were not safe.
"As the United Nations recently noted that Indian Supreme Court’s response to human rights petitions in the context of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir was slow, this decision points out that when it acts, it is unable to protect the interests of India’s minorities," read the press release.
The MoFA further noted that the rising tide of extremist Hindu ideology was a threat to regional peace and stability.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the Karatarpur Corridor, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “Want to congratulate those worked on the temple.”
“I did not know my government was so efficient. Want to congratulate them again for completing the complex in record time,” he added.
Speaking about Sidhu’s speech, the prime minister said Sidhu spoke from the heart today.
"There is humanity in the philosophy of Guru Nanak," he said. "Humanity is what separates human beings from animals. Our God also talks about humanity and our Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent as a mercy for all mankind."
The prime minister congratulated his ministers for working hard on the corridor.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said today was a historic moment.
“Imran Khan has created history with Kartarpur Corridor,” Qureshi said. “Kartarpur has been opened for Sikhs from all over world.”
He congratulated the Sikh all over the world on opening of the Kartipur Corridor and welcomed the Sikh pilgrims present at their holy site.
Qureshi said, “The doors of Kartarpur Sahab are open for the Sikh community.” He added that the message of Guru Nanak was of peace.
The foreign minister said we need to see today who was sowing the seed of hate in the region. He congratulated Prime Minister Imran Khan on the opening of the historic corridor.
The foreign minister reminded the people that November 9 was also the day when the Berlin Wall fell which changed the map of Europe.
Qureshi said, “If the Kartarpur corridor can open then LoCs temporary closure can also end.” He added that just how the doors of Kartarpur have opened the doors of Srinagar’s Jama Mosque should also open so Muslims can pray the Friday prayers.
Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Kartarpur for the inauguration ceremony of the corridor.
The premier arrived from Islamabad via Sialkot and was accompanied by Special Assistant on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan, Senator Javed Khan, Special Assistant to the PM for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari and other officials.
Indian cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu arrived for the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor on Saturday.
Earlier, Indian authorities had barred Sidhu from entering Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah border.
Former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Pakistan via Kartarpur Corridor on Saturday.
"Today is a historic moment for the Sikh community," Singh said on arrival. "Opening of the corridor will help improve relations between Pakistan and India."
Indian Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh also arrived via Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan for the inauguration.
Members of the Sikh community continue to arrive from all over the world for the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor.
Indian authorities on Saturday barred cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu from entering Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah border, sources said.
According to sources, despite having a five-day visa the Indian authorities at Attari stopped the cricketer from entering Pakistan.
Sources added Sidhu will now enter Pakistan from Kartarpur.
Indian Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday for his "cooperation" on a visa-free corridor allowing Indian Sikhs to visit one of their religion´s holiest sites across the border in Pakistan.
"I would like to thank the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, for respecting the sentiments of India. I thank him for his cooperation," Modi said in televised comments from the inauguration of the corridor on the Indian side of the border.
In a message on the occasion of Kartarpur Corridor's opening, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor was a testimony of Pakistan's commitment to regional peace.
The PM said we believe that the road to prosperity of region and bright future of our coming generation lies in peace.
Congratulating the Sikh community on both sides of the border and the world over on the historic day, PM Imran said the significance of the event for the Sikh community, on 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji, could be well understood by Muslims who knew what it meant to visit the holy places.
He said the inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor was a manifestation of the fact that our hearts are always open for the followers of different religions as enjoined by our great religion and envisioned by the Father of the Nation.
The premier said today we were not only opening border but also our hearts for the Sikh community.
He said unprecedented gesture of goodwill from the Government of Pakistan was a reflection of its deep respect for Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji and religious sentiments of the Sikh community.
The prime minister said Pakistan believes that interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence would provide an opportunity to work for larger interests of the people of the sub-continent.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will see off the first group of pilgrims later Saturday and they will be welcomed by Prime Minister Imran Khan at the shrine.
The deal allows for up to 5,000 pilgrims a day to cross.
Pakistan has employed hundreds of labourers to spruce up the shrine, including building a border immigration checkpoint and a bridge, as well as expanding the site’s grounds.
From India, Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu will arrive for the inauguration ceremony as the government of Pakistan granted him a visa on Thursday.
Bollywood actor Sunny Deol and former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh are expected to attend the ground breaking ceremony on November 9.