Chandigarh, March 15 (IANS) Expressing his disappointment over Pakistan’s response to various issues raised by India during the first meeting on the Kartarpur Corridor project, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday urged Islamabad to be more “amenable and responsive” to India’s demands keeping in view the interests of devotees seeking to visit the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara across the border.
In a statement issued here, the Chief Minister said: “Islamabad’s response to India’s demands was totally inadequate and the neighbouring country needed to reconsider its stand if the Corridor is to serve its true purpose, in the spirit in which it was decided to be opened.”
“The governments of the two countries took a historic decision by agreeing to open the Corridor to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji, in November this year,” Amarinder said, lauding the fact that the Pulwama attack and the subsequent IAF air strikes were not allowed to scuttle the talks between the two sides on taking the project forward.
“It was good that the two countries remained on track with the project deadlines, but Pakistan needed to go a step further to make the initiative truly meaningful for the pilgrims, particularly the Sikh community, which had been deprived of darshan at the Kartarpur Gurdwara for over 70 years,” he added.
“The limitation of 500 pilgrims a day, as proposed by Pakistan, was extremely insufficient to cater to the aspirations of the large number of devotees desirous of darshan at the Gurdwara. And curtailing the visit to a limited number of days in a week would defeat the purpose even further,” the Chief Minister said.
Amarinder reiterated his demand for visa-free “khule darshan” at the Gurdwara for Indians of all faiths, from India and overseas, seven days a week.
“Pilgrims should be allowed to go through Kartarpur Corridor for ‘khule darshan’ at the historic Gurdwara all seven days of the week. Special permits should be good for identity, the visa requirement needs to be waived. Pakistan has to be more responsive on this issue,” Amarinder said in a tweet on Friday.
Pointing to the significance of Kartarpur Gurdwara in the life of the first Sikh Guru, who has a massive following among people of all faiths around the world, the Chief Minister said the occasion demanded a more universal approach from Pakistan.
He urged Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to show statesmanship in the true spirit of the sportsman that he was and ensure that no devotee wanting a darshan at Kartarpur Gurdwara is deprived any more of this momentous opportunity.
“Pakistan should show much more flexibility in this regard as a mark of respect to the Sikh community,” he added.
The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, located 4.5 km from the border near the Dera Baba Nanak town in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, is significant for the Sikh community as it is here that Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life and is his final resting place.
The governments of India and Pakistan are trying to facilitate the travel of pilgrims to offer prayers at the Gurdwara — a demand made by the Sikhs for the past over 70 years.