Hundreds of Indian Sikhs made a historic pilgrimage to Pakistan, crossing through a white gate to reach one of their religion’s holiest sites, after a landmark opening of the Kartarpur corridor on Saturday 9th November 2019.
Prime Minister Imran Khan formally inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor at a colourful ceremony on Saturday, paving the way for Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit one of their religion’s holiest sites in Pakistan without needing a visa.
“First of all, I congratulate the Sikh community on the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak and welcome you all,” the premier said at the start of his address, paying tribute to the government team for completing the Kartarpur project in a matter of months.
Former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu earlier addressed the ceremony, thanking Prime Minister Imran for taking the bold step to build the Kartarpur Corridor “without looking at gains or losses”.
“You have won hearts,” he said while addressing the premier.
Further heaping praise on Prime Minister Imran, he said: “There are people who are swept away by the tides of time, even the mountains bow to the tides of time, man is left spinning as it whirls by, but then there are those like Imran Khan who stand the test of time and create history.
“No benefit or loss was weighed. No deals were considered. My faithful friend (PM Imran) did this for the love of God.
Cheering Sikhs walked joyfully along the road from Dera Baba Nanak in India towards the new immigration hall that would allow them to pass through a secure land corridor into Pakistan. Some fathers ran, carrying their children on their shoulders.
Buses were waiting on the Pakistani side to carry them along the corridor to the shrine to Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak, which lies in Kartarpur, a small town just 2.5 miles inside Pakistan where he is believed to have died.
Pilgrims on both sides of the border hoped the corridor might herald a thaw in South Asian tensions.
Among the first pilgrims was former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who told Pakistani state media that it was a “big moment”.
Many believe it has happened now because of the friendship between Prime Minister Imran Khan, a World Cup winning cricketer-turned politician, and India’s Navjot Singh Sidhu — another cricketer-turned-politician.
The opening comes just days ahead of the Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday on November 12th an anniversary of huge significance for the global Sikh community.