Sikhs in Pakistan mark first anniversary of Kartarpur Corridor

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The ceremony was held amidst controversy over the Imran Khan government’s handing over the administrative control of the corridor to the ETPB.

Sikhs in Pakistan on Monday held rituals at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib to mark the first anniversary of the inauguration of the historic Kartarpur Corridor.

In November last year, the two countries threw open the corridor linking Dera Baba Sahib in Gurdaspur in India and Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, in a historic people-to-people initiative.

A ceremony, in which no minister of the Imran Khan government participated, was held to mark the occasion at Narowal, according to the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB).

About 1,000 Sikh devotees and local guests attended the event, it said.

The Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandhik Committee (PSGPC) also offered prayers in Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the ETPB said in a statement.

The ceremony was held amidst controversy over the Imran Khan government’s handing over the administrative control of the corridor to the ETPB. No Sikh is included in the Project Management Unit (PMU), which was recently set up to manage the affairs of the corridor.

The Economic Coordination Committee of the Federal Cabinet recently approved the establishment of PMU Kartarpur Corridor, a self-financing body, for management and maintenance of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib under the administrative control of the ETPB.

ETPB spokesperson Amir Hashmi said that the PMU has been established to look after the day-to-day running of affairs like management, accounts and coordinate the efforts of all the stakeholders.

The corridor was temporarily closed on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but as religious places started opening up around the world, Pakistan reopened it on June 29.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office, in a statement on Monday, said: “India is yet to reopen the corridor from its side and allow the Sikh pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib.”

India says that a decision to re-open the Kartarpur corridor would be taken in accordance with the protocols relating to COVID-19 and easing of restrictions.

Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava last month said: “As you are aware, movement was suspended in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak. We remain in touch with all concerned authorities including ministries of home affairs and health and family welfare. A decision on re-opening of the corridor would be taken in accordance with the COVID-19 protocols and easing of restrictions.”

The 4 km-long Kartarpur Corridor provides visa free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib. It is the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, who had spent the last 18 years of his life in Kartarpur.

The Kartarpur corridor was thrown open on November 9 last year on the eve of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in the midst of heightened tension between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue.

The relations between the two countries nosedived after India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5, 2019 and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

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