Kartarpur (Pakistan): The Kartarpur Corridor was thrown open to the public Thursday, with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan asking his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to lift the restrictions imposed in Kashmir since the 5 August scrapping of Article 370.
“I kept telling Prime Minister Narendra Modi that if we solve the issue of Kashmir then all problems will be solved and there will be forever peace between India and Pakistan. But today, what’s happening in Kashmir is more than just a territorial issue,” Khan said in his welcome address to Indian pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.
“Today, all talks are over. India has taken away the rights of Kashmiris,” he said.
Khan added that the issue of Kashmir is “not a territorial dispute anymore over a piece of land but it is now about inhumanity”, adding that the condition of Kashmiris is now sub-human.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said just like the Berlin Wall (which fell on the same date 30 years ago), India and Pakistan should break down all issues between them and free up the borders for greater people-to people contact.
More than 5,000 pilgrims visited Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, which has been developed into a sprawling 4-acre compound covered with while marble. The pilgrims who wanted to pay their obeisance mostly comprised Sikhs, though people from other religions were also present.
Indian dignitaries who attended the inauguration ceremony Saturday included former prime minister Manmohan Singh with his wife Gursharan Kaur, Union ministers Hardeep Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal, and the latter’s husband and former deputy CM of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Asked about the Indian government’s repeated statements that Pakistan will be using this corridor to stir up the Khalistan controversy in Punjab, Harsimrat Badal said: “Those who do not understand Guru Nanak and his teachings and his beliefs can only talk like this. It was my long-standing dream to come here, and I am happy I could get this opportunity in my lifetime.”
Navjot Singh Sidhu, the former Punjab cabinet minister and cricketer who attended the event as a special invitee of PM Khan, said the credit for fulfilling the long-pending dreams of the Sikh community to visit Kartarpur goes to Khan.