Update (9th November): PM Khan finally inaugurated the long-awaited Kartarpur Corridor and welcomed the Sikh community to the world’s biggest Gurdwara just ahead Guru Nanak’s 550th Birthday. Scroll down to find out some exclusive information on the newly established corridor of peace!
Update (4th November): The Government of Pakistan amazed the devotees of Baba Guru Nanak from both sides of the borders by developing an official song for the Kartarpur Corridor. Scroll down to watch the official song of Kartarpur Corridor!
Update: PM Khan tweeted on Friday, November 1st, 2019 that there have been a few changes made to the grant procedure of the Kartarpur Corridor. It was previously decided that the pilgrims will need to show the passport during their visit to the gurdwara but it has now been changed. Pilgrims are no longer required to show their passport, only a valid identity will do, the registration requirement had also been done away with, and no entry fees will be charged for now, given that it’s Guru Nanak’s 550th Birthday!
The world is a global village, and it is viewed as a single community free from segregations and disputes. In line with global norms of community living, Pakistan has amended its tourism policies to facilitate global tourists. So, keeping in mind the importance of religious affiliations, the value of brotherhood, and the respect for diversity, the Government of Pakistan spearheaded the project of Kartarpur Corridor on the request of Indian Sikh community. The corridor, which is also known as the Corridor of Peace, will be inaugurated on November 9th, 2019.
Now, as Pakistan’s #1 tourism blog, we have compiled the many benefits of this project, but before we get there, here are some interesting facts about the Kartarpur Corridor!
Some Interesting Facts about the Kartarpur Corridor
The freedom to follow and act according to your religious beliefs are important aspects of fundamental human rights practised across the globe. The importance of religious affiliations needs not to be explained to the Muslim community since they are already aware of the significance of Hajj. Hence, being the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the government acted on the request made by Sikh communities in India to bring the two faiths closer via the Darbar Sahib Kartarpur. Here’s a little roundup of some interesting facts about the Kartarpur Corridor:
- The agreement was signed between the two countries at the Kartarpur Zero Point on International Border.
- A Spokesperson of the Foreign Office, Muhammad Faisal, represented Pakistan and signed the pact on its behalf, while the Joint Secretary of the Union Home Ministry, S C L Das, signed the agreement from India’s side.
- The inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor is expected to be attended by the former Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.
- Pilgrims will not require any visa to visit the gurdwara, just a special grant.
- The grant is only valid from morning till evening of the same day.
- The visa-free corridor is stretched from Kartarpur, Darbar Sahib in Pakistan to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur District in India
- The Kartarpur Corridor is also known as the “faith corridor” and the “corridor of peace”.
- The faith corridor is visible from the other side of the border
- Previously, Indian Sikhs had to use binoculars to catch a glimpse of the sacred gurudwara
Now that you have all the necessary information about the visa-free corridor of Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, let’s explore more about the special grant procedure and requirements!
Grant Procedure and Requirements for the Visitors of Karptarpur Corridor
Communicating the simple visa procedure of Kartarpur Corridor, Muhammad Faisal revealed some important information regarding the corridor right after the agreement was signed and said, “Under the agreement, the corridor will remain open seven days a week from dawn to dusk. A total of 5,000 or so Indian Sikhs will arrive every day and leave the same day.” He further explained the procedure of applying for the special grant and added, “The pilgrims will have to bring their passport for their identity and it will not be stamped. India will share the list of those visiting the Gurdwara (Darbar Sahib Kartarpur) ten days in advance before their travel plans.”
However, registration will not guarantee a grant, while the visitors approved for a visit will receive a confirmation via SMS or email four days in advance, so they can start their preparations for the trip. The sojourners will only be allowed to carry up to 7 kgs of weight, including water bottles.
Moreover, Sikh visitors will be required to pay a standard fee of USD 20 to enter the premises of the country, for a single trip. This special grant will only allow the pilgrims to visit Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, while they will have to apply for a Pakistani tourist visa to visit other parts of the country.
Additionally, the officer also addressed the concerned authorities and citizens on the safety measures and assured, “Severe security measures have been taken in and around the Gurudwara.”
On a side note, have you ever wondered what foreign travellers have to say about Pakistan? Head to our blog and find out.
More importantly, let’s see how the Kartarpur Corridor will benefit Pakistan besides strengthening religious ties between the two faiths!
Economic and Civil Benefits of the Kartarpur Corridor to Pakistan
As mentioned earlier, after the inauguration of the faith corridor, Pakistan will allow five thousand Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the gurdwara every day, round the year, and carry out their religious rituals without any fears or concerns. Besides being an achievement worthy of international applause, the project will also offer several economic, cultural, communal, and civil gains to Pakistan.
Keep scrolling to find out how!
Goodwill between India and Pakistan
Religious intolerance is among the root causes of terrorism, unilateralism, and regional and global conflicts. So, it is quite evident that the Kartarpur Corridor is also a subtle way of promoting national pluralism since it is a gateway to a place considered incredibly sacred by the Sikh community. Additionally, looking into the formation history of both countries – India and Pakistan have never really been on good terms; hence, the faith corridor is exceptionally crucial for laying the foundation of peace, and facilitating Sikh communities could become the crucial first step towards breaking the ice.
Analysing the excitement across both borders, the visa-free corridor is believed to strengthen the communal structure and promote greater solidarity in the global context.
Paradigmatic Shift in Cultural and Religious Harmony
Article 36 of the Constitution of Pakistan states, “The state shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities, including their due representation in the Federal and Provincial services.” In compliance with the article, the country is a strong advocate of granting religious freedom and a protector of the fundamental and religious rights of minorities.
The article, coupled with the recent launch of the faith corridor, ultimately exhibits Pakistan’s agreement to religious harmony, not just to the Sikh community, but to the rest of the world as well. Moreover, shared religious practices via Darbar Sahib will not only make relations between India and Pakistan more robust but will also help the nations to understand each other better.
Boost in Tourism Industry and Economic Growth
Before we get into the details of the project, here’s an interesting fact: The Kartarpur Corridor is solely funded by none other than the Federal Government of Pakistan. The first phase of the project was tentatively planned to be completed by the 550th annual anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak this year. The project aims to facilitate the Indian Sikh community to celebrate the day with their Sikh brothers in Pakistan. The project will also encourage Sikh pilgrims to:
- Preserve the legacy of Baba Guru Nanak Sahib
- Take measures to sanctify other sacred places, including the Gurudwara Building, Khui Sahib, and Khaiti Sahib.
- Provide them transportation facilities across the border
The corridor of peace is expected to open new doors of growth for South Asia’s tourism and boost the economic graphs not only in Pakistan but in India as well. The reason is plain and simple: The Sikh community all around the world shares the same belief, and nobody would want to miss a chance to witness the sacredness of this place. Paying minimal fees with no complicated visa requirements is genuinely a cherry on the cake.
In simpler words, Kartarpur is the second-best thing to happen to the country’s tourism after the Royal’s Couple’s visit to Pakistan.
Additionally, whether they are Indians or Pakistanis – the population on both sides of the borders are the purveyors of peace and development; hence, the project will generate economic and social connectivity between two densely populated provinces – Punjab(s).
On the other hand, following the unity agenda, the Punjab Government has already started several projects of religious tourism and has taken a step forward by arranging short trips to gurdwaras and temples in the province.
The first tour started from Fort Road Street, which was accompanied by the PRO of Punjab Governor, Pawan Singh Arora. He explained the purpose of the tour and said, “It is through these historical trips that we will be taking the visitors to the temples so that they could see the places and learn about the religious practices of the Sikh community.” The official further added that “These trips will also promote religious harmony and companionship among people of different faith groups”.
This was just an example of the advancement in the tourism industry, and it will be followed by many such significant ventures.
The Government of Pakistan Surprises Sikh Devotees by Releasing a Song for the Kartarpur Corridor
As the days for the launch of Kartarpur Corridor get nearer, excitement across both sides of the border is reaching a new high. Given the importance of the corridor and its emotional attachment to the Sikh community, the Government of Pakistan released a divine theme song for the gate of peace. Just like the project, the Kartarpur song invites the devotees of Guru Nanak from the other side of the border and celebrates his 550th birthday with them.
The song shows a divine connection between the Sikh community and soil of Pakistan as the song mentions at one point, “Saray jagg ton yaatree chahat lekey othay aey” – the devotees from around the world are bringing their admiration (to Pakistan). So, sing along and sway your heads to the divine tune of this song:
Highlights from the First Pilgrimage after the Inauguration of the Passageway to World’s Biggest Gurdwara
On the 9th of November 2019, PM Imran Khan and a few diplomats from the Indian Government gathered at one platform to inaugurate the long-awaited visa-free corridor and a gateway to the world’s biggest Gurdwara. On this propitious occasion, coupled with the upcoming 550th birthday of Guru Nanak, PM Khan addressed the crowd by welcoming the Sikh community to Pakistan and congratulating the authorities for achieving the great development target on such a short notice of 10 months. PM Khan explicitly admired the work of the authorities by using words such as “beautiful complex”.
He preached the message of peace while addressing the crowd gathered at the first pilgrimage and said that humanity is the greatest religion of all. He even mentioned that “justice and humanity” had been the only objectives of every saint, and such was the aim of Guru Nanak. He further added, “We remember saints like Guru Nanak just because of the privileges they have brought to mankind”. He even mentioned, “I only recently found out about the importance of the biggest Gurdwara, and now when I know about it, I am glad to have provided Sikh communities with access to their Madina”. Here are some highlights from his speech:
On the same note, the official Twitter account of the Government of Pakistan also shared some more facts on Kartarpur Corridor including the fact that during the first phase, 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the Gurdwara every day while the number of pilgrims will be increased to around 10,000 per day in the second phase. The Government of Pakistan will also be responsible for providing food to the visitors.
The event was attended by several other Sikh leaders, including former Indian cricketer & politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and ex-Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh. The ex-cricketer, also known as Sixer-Sidhu, also addressed the pilgrims on the inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor and passageway to world’s biggest Gurdwara on 9th November and said, “Sikh community will be now serving as an advocate and a mouthpiece for Pakistan since PM Khan has proved to be our true friends.” He further added that we have been only dreaming about visiting Guru Nanak’s Gurdwara after partition, but Imran Khan has turned this dream into a reality.
Some other notable public figures such as Morgan Ortagus, the State Dept Spokesperson under the leadership of the 70th Secretary of State, also admired this step taken by the Government of Pakistan towards humanity. Representing the collective views of the organisation, she said, “We see this [the launch of Kartarpur Corridor, a gateway to world’s biggest Gurdwara] as a positive example of neighbours working together for mutual benefit. The newly open corridor is a step towards promoting greater religious freedom.” Here’s the official video:
Baba Guru Nanak University in Nankana Sahib
In continuation of maintaining and deepening relationships with other faiths, PM Khan recently inaugurated Baba Guru Nanak University on the 550th birthday of the spiritual leader of the Sikh community. The university is aimed explicitly at inviting international enrollments to the country and bringing Pakistan’s education industry at par with global standards. The university is situated in Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, and is located 75 km from the capital of Punjab – Lahore.
The inauguration event was attended by many well-known public figures and highly esteemed diplomats. Addressing the attendees of the event, Khurram Shahzad, a spokesperson of the Punjab University, said, “The students of the university will carry out research on the teaching of Baba Guru Nanak. It was not only the demands of Sikhs but the academia that feels the need to promote the message of tolerance of Baba Guru Nanak in the society.”
PM Khan commenced his speech by acknowledging the efforts of the fellow officials and said, “I am grateful to CM Punjab and I congratulate him for making remarkable efforts on the 550th birthday of Guru Nanak by founding an educational institution and education is the key to success.” He further added, “The University doesn’t only aim to fulfil the needs of the local students, but it invites the Sikh community from all over the world and enrol at Guru Nanak University and study in Pakistan.”
He also added that “we should bridge the distances between two nations, and since Kartarpur is a sacred place for the Sikh community, we’ll always keep our doors open to them.” He also mentioned that education and tourism is a top priority of the government.
Federal Government Issues Special Coin to Mark Guru Nanak’s 550th Birthday
On October 30th, the Government of Pakistan issued a commemorative coin to honour the spiritual leader of the Sikh community. The coin marks the government’s initiative to developer deeper bonds between the Sikh and Muslim communities. The coin was released right before the 550th birthday of Guru Nanak Devji and followed by the agreement of Kartarpur Corridor. It is a great symbol of respect, association, and diversity, and will help Pakistan stand tall in terms of international relationships and global brotherhood.
This concludes our analysis of the many benefits of the Kartarpur Corridor Project. Visit Zameen Blogs to find out more about developmental projects in Pakistan and help us promote tourism by subscribing to our newsletters and sharing this piece!
Cover Image Credits: Taken from official twitter page of Danyal Gilani