While inaugurating a new visa-free corridor between the Sikh gurdwara at Kartarpur in Pakistan and the Indian town of Dera Baba Nanak, on Wednesday 28 November, the Pakistani Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has offered to normalise relations with India.
A new road and bridge is being constructed that would link the two sites making it much easier for people of the Sikh faith to visit their holy site in Pakistan from India where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life.
Sikhs will be able to travel freely between the two landmarks without visas for the first time since the the united India was divided in 1947 gaining independence from Britain.
At the ground breaking ceremony being attended by Indian federal ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri, and provincial Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Imran said, “There have been mistakes on both sides [in the past], but we will not be able to move forward until we break the chains of the past,” said Khan. “The past is there only to teach us, not for us to live in.”
Guru Nanak died in 1539 at Kartarpur and the gurdwara, the Sikh place of worship, was built over his final resting place that now lies in Pakistan, a few kilometers away from the Indian border.
With the opening of the corridor, a wish of the Sikh community and one which Pakistan proposed to be followed through with earlier this year, the Pakistani government says it is showing that it is prepared to take concrete steps to ease tensions.
For Sikhs in the area, the opening of the corridor is the culmination of a long-held dream.
The Indian government, led by Hindu Nationalist party BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was pressured into opening the corridor due to domestic political pressures and could not afford to offend the people of Sikh faith.