On the occasion of the first anniversary of the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, Pakistan has said that while it had reopened the corridor in June after closing it due to concerns over Covid-19 pandemic, India is yet to reopen its side.
The Pakistan foreign office statement on Monday came days after India’s protest against Islamabad’s decision to hand over management of Durbar Sahib Gurdwara in Kartarpur to a body without any Sikh representatives.
Last week, external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said Aftab Hassan Khan, chargé d’affaires at the Pakistan high commission, was “summoned and our strong protest was conveyed”.
“It was also conveyed to him that this unilateral decision by Pakistan is highly condemnable and runs against the spirit of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor as also the religious sentiments of the Sikh community at large,” he said.
According to a notification issued on November 3, Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry handed over management of the gurdwara to a “project management unit” under the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), a government department that oversees shrines of the country’s minorities.
The gurdwara was earlier under the management of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC). There are no Sikhs among the officials and staff appointed by the ETPB for Darbar Sahib Gurdwara.
The Kartarpur corridor was temporarily closed on 16 March due to the Covid-19.
“As the religious places started gradually opening up around the world, Pakistan also reopened the Corridor on 29 June 2020 with Covid related necessary health safety protocols. India has yet to reopen the Corridor from its side and allow the Sikh pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib,” the Pakistan foreign ministry statement said.
The Corridor, inaugurated on 9 November 2019 by Prime Minister Imran Khan on the eve of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, fulfilled the long-awaited desire of the Sikh community from all over the world, it noted.
Kartarpur has a special significance in the Sikh religion, as the first Guru of Sikhism, Baba Guru Nanak Saheb, had spent the last years of his life in Kartarpur, the statement noted.
It said that the Kartarpur Corridor, also known as the “Peace Corridor”, is a true symbol of inter-faith harmony and religious unity.
The Sikh as well as the international community, including the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who while visiting Kartarpur described it as “Corridor of Hope”, has immensely appreciated this landmark initiative of Pakistan, it added.