Kartarpur corridor: On Wednesday, Pakistan had launched its part of the project.
The launch of the Kartarpur corridor between India and Pakistan was packed with controversy on Monday as a credit war erupted between the Akali Dal, an ally of the ruling BJP at the centre, and Punjab’s ruling Congress. The proposed corridor has also seeded a new point of conflict between Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and one of his ministers, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been effusively pushing the project since his visit to Pakistan in September for cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s swearing in as the country’s prime minister.
Here are top 10 points about the Kartarpur corridor project:
1. The Kartarpur corridor involves a road link for Sikh pilgrims to visit the famous Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan, which is around three-four km from the International Border.
2. The 16th century Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of the river Ravi is important for Sikhs as Guru Nanak Dev, their main guru, spent 18 years here. The gurudwara was established by the first Sikh Guru in 1522.
3. For decades, Sikh devotees have been demanding that India and Pakistan collaborate to build a corridor linking it with the Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district.
4. Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had first suggested the corridor when he took the bus trip to Lahore in 1999.
5. At a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 22, the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to the Pakistan border was approved. “Visa arrangements will be made. The corridor will be 3 to 4 kilometers long,” said union finance minister Arun Jaitley, announcing the decision.
6. Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and Amarinder Singh attended the ground-breaking ceremony in Gurdaspur’s Mann village near the border. On Wednesday, Pakistan will launch its part of the project. Two union ministers will travel to Pakistan for the event after Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj declined the invite.
7. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has also declined to visit Pakistan, saying he would not visit the country unless it ended violence against India.
8. His minister Navjot Sidhu has asked the centre for permission to visit Pakistan. He landed in trouble in September when he was seen on camera embracing Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Bajwa.
9. Mr Sidhu said the embrace was a spontaneous reaction to the Pak army chief saying Islamabad was ready to proceed on the Kartarpur corridor on Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary. His boss Amarinder Singh, however, was far less friendly towards the Pak army chief yesterday as he said “Which army teaches to violate ceasefire and kill jawans on the other side? Which army teaches to send people to attack Pathankot and Amritsar? This is cowardice.”
10. In another controversy hours before the ceremony in Gurdaspur, a Congress minister pasted black-tape on his name and that of Amarinder Singh from a plaque, objecting to the names of Akali Dal leaders on it.