Modi, Imran open Kartarpur corridor

DERA BABA NANAK/KARTARPUR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor on their respective sides of the border with the former flagging off the first batch of over 500 Indian pilgrims, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, Punjab.
The corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine.
Modi flagged off the first batch of pilgrims led by Akal Takhat Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib through the corridor, which was thrown open days ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on November 12. The prime minister inaugurated the passenger terminal building of the corridor on the Indian side, also known as the Integrated Check Post, where pilgrims will get clearance to travel through the newly-built 4.5-km-long corridor.
The first batch of pilgrims included Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal and Navjot Singh Sidhu. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee members and all the 117 MLAs and MPs from Punjab were also part of the ‘jatha’ (delegation).
Before dedicating the corridor to the nation, Modi partook langar (community kitchen) along with Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore, Amarinder Singh and state Congress president Sunil Jakhar.
At the time of flagging off the jatha, Modi met Manmohan Singh, who was accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, and had a brief chat with him.    
On November 22 last year, the Union Cabinet had passed a resolution to celebrate the historic occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in a “grand and befitting manner” throughout the country and across the globe. The Cabinet had also approved the development of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to the international boundary to facilitate pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib round the year in a smooth and easy manner. Across the border, Imran Khan threw open the corridor to facilitate Indian pilgrims to visit one of Sikhism’s holiest shrines in the Pakistani town of Narowal amid fanfare and in the presence of several thousands Sikhs.
Khan inaugurated the corridor by removing a curtain that was lifted by hot-air balloons.
A huge ‘kirpan’ (dagger) was displayed at the inauguration site.
“I am happy we could do this for you,” he said. “Believe me, I had no idea of the importance this place holds; I found out a year ago,” Khan added.
During his brief address, Khan raked up the Kashmir issue and said it has resulted 70 years of hatred between India and Pakistan.
“The resolution of the Kashmir issue will lead to greater prosperity and mutual development of India and Pakistan,” Khan said.
“India must ensure justice to people of Kashmir,” he said, referring to the abrogation of the Article 370 and communication blackout in the Valley. He hoped that one day the relationship between the two neighbours will improve.
Khan said the historic opening of the Kartarpur corridor is a testimony to Pakistan’s commitment to regional peace.
“We believe that the road to prosperity of the region and bright future of our coming generation lies in peace,” Khan said in his message on the occasion. “Today we are not only opening the border, but also our hearts for the Sikh community,” he said.
Khan welcomed the first batch of the Indian Sikh pilgrims. He shook hands with Manmohan and exchanged pleasantries. (PTI) 

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