'Kartarpur chance for Sikhs to get India-Pak together'

The agreement will allow 5,000 Indian pilgrims daily to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life.  Photo/PTI

The historic opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor offers a great opportunity for the Sikh community to bring India and Pakistan together in these testing times, the leader of the UAE's Sikh community has said, thanking the leaders of both the countries for the momentous occasion.

Surender Singh Kandhari said Kartarpur was of historic and religious significance for Sikhs as this is where the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Dev took his last breath.

"We consider this of the same importance as the Nankana Sahib Pakistan, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev Ji," he said.

"Guru Ji visited a number of far off places and visited several well-known and popular places of pilgrimage for Hindus and Muslims. After these journeys Guru Nanak Devji settled in Kartarpur before leaving his physical form," Kandhari said.

The Kartarpur Sahib Corridor linking Dera Baba Sahib in Gurdaspur in India and Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan will be thrown open on Saturday, in a historic people-to-people initiative which sparks a glimmer of hope for improvement in ties between the two countries.

The Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib is located across the Ravi river in Pakistan and is about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab.

"We are privileged and honoured to be invited by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the opening ceremony of the Kartarpur Border, celebrating Guru Nanak Devji's 550th Prakash Purb on the 9th of November," Kandhari said in a statement.

"We, at the Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar Dubai, and on behalf of the entire Sikh and Indian community in the UAE, are very happy at this development. It not only shows the harmonious coexistence between the countries but also upholds the values that can be sustained alongside the freedom to practise our faith," he said.

Kandhari also said the Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar Dubai appreciates the gesture of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for opening the border for the Sikh community on this momentous occasion.

He also referred to the event as a great opportunity for the Sikh community to bring India and Pakistan together in these trying times.

"We hope this event brings the two countries together and lead to further cooperation and peaceful atmosphere to improve the relationship," Kandhari said.

"This year as we celebrate the Year of Tolerance in the United Arab Emirates, this opening of the Kartarpur Border is a perfect example of interfaith understanding, harmony in diversity, religious tolerance between India and Pakistan," he said.

The inauguration of the corridor comes in the midst of frayed ties between India and Pakistan following New Delhi's decision in August to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories.

Notwithstanding a chill in bilateral ties over Kashmir, India and Pakistan after tough negotiations signed an agreement last month, paving the way for the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor on November 9.

The agreement will allow 5,000 Indian pilgrims daily to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life. 

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