Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has written to External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, urging her to “make every possible effort” on the issue of Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara and said Pakistan has shown “positive intent” in providing access to the historic shrine.
This comes after the local government, tourism and cultural affairs minister had claimed on September 7 that Pakistan had decided to allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara just across the border.
In a letter written to the union minister on Saturday, cricketer-turned-politician said: “Now an opportunity has knocked on our doors. Pakistan has shown a positive intent towards the long pending demand of Kartarpur Sahib corridor. Pilgrims and we all have been demanding for this corridor since years”.
He said some positivity came on this issue when he visited Pakistan for the oath-taking ceremony of Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan.
But now with the county’s Information minister Fawad Chaudhary saying that corridor will be opened and even visa wont be required as part of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev ji, it is time for India to take a positive step on this highly emotional issue, he said.
“When opportunity knocks, kindly step up and open the door,” wrote Sidhu.
“…Appropriate measures on the Kartarpur Sahib corridor must be taken as Sikh sentiments are strongly attached with it. Hoping for a positive response from you,” Sidhu further worte.
Sidhu had faced flak after he returned home last month from the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad, where he was seen hugging Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa
Defending his hug with Bajwa, Sidhu had said last month that he was overwhelmed when told that Pakistan was making efforts to allow access to Kartarpur Sahib.
“The opening of this corridor will be a huge thing for the Sikh community all over the world. Even though both neighbours have had sour relations for decades but the corridor if opened can bring peace and prosperity between the two countries. This can break barriers, build bridges and improve relations between the two nations,” he said in the letter.
Sidhu said among various historical Gurdwaras in Pakistan, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib Ji is of great significance.
“This is the place where Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent almost 18 years of his life. The Gurdwara Sahib is very close to the International border. Such is the sentiment of the pilgrims in India that they visit the border everyday just to have a glimpse of this holy shrine through binoculars arranged by the Border Security Force at the Border in the Dera Baba Nanak region of India,” he said in the letter.
“Some touch the holy earth and some depart with tearful eyes. But are deprived of paying obeisance at this holy shrine. The visa wrangles have deprived numerous pilgrims from reaching this historic Gurdwara over the years. The rift between two neighbours grew so much over the years that even visiting historical Gurdwaras at will became a problem,” he wrote.