Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor in Narowal on Saturday.
The first group of pilgrims arrived in Pakistan at around 10:15am. Prime Minister Khan arrived at the inauguration venue via helicopter.
Saturday also marks the 550th birthday of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion. The inauguration was specially scheduled today so that Sikh pilgrims could visit the gurdwara in Kartarpur on Baba Guru Nanak’s birthday.
Former premier Manmohan Singh, politicians Sunny Deol and Navjot Singh Sidhu and Indian Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh all attended the ceremony.
I had no idea my government was so efficient, said PM Khan. Now I know, we can get so much more done, he said, thanking them for completing the project in a record 10 months.
Muslims call Allah, the God of all humans, he said. All of God’s prophets had two messages: justice and humanity, he said. These separate human and animal societies, he said, adding that survival of the fittest isn’t humane. The powerful win and the weak lose, he said. God’s prophets have all spoken of these, he said. Whoever reads Guru Nanak’s philosophy, they see that he speaks of humanity and peace, he said.
The people who came for humanity, like big sufis, people go to their mazaars today because they came for humanity, he said. I am happy we were able to do this for you, he said. I had no idea of the importance of Kartarpur, he said.
Muslims would be so upset if we lived 5km from Makkah and couldn’t go there, said PM Khan. I see the true happiness in your eyes, he said. A leader always brings people together, he doesn’t divide them, he said. “Those who spread hate are not leaders.”
PM Khan said whoever is in South Africa will always love and thank Nelson Mandela. No one thought there could be peace, but there was one leader who spent 27 years in jail came and unified people, he said.
He also said Hazarat Muhammad (pbuh) also unified people and only spoke of humanity. “Killing one person is like killing the whole world.”
Sidhu when you told me to open the border, it’s the first thing I thought of when I became prime minister, he said.
The first thing I said to Modi when I took office is that our biggest problem is poverty, said PM Khan. I said we can fix this, resolve this issue through good relations and trade, said the premier. “This would mean prosperity for both of us.”
The only issue between us is the Kashmir issue, he said. When I met Manmohan Singh once, when he was the prime minister, he told me there’s just one issue between us, and that is Kashmir, he said.
Why can’t we solve the issue, he asked. It saddens me to say that this is no longer a territorial issue, it is a human rights issue, said PM Khan.
Eight million people have no rights, this is a human issue, he said. Their rights have been taken from them forcefully and because of this all relations have been compromised, said PM Khan.
I have one message for PM Modi, if he is listening, that justice leads to peace, he said. We have to move forward together and solve all our problems, he said.
Imagine, if we start trading, said PM Khan. “After that, we can think of all the ways we can alleviate poverty together.” For the first time, people from India can come visit their ‘Madina,’ he said. I hope this is the start of new, improved relations with India, said the premier.
“France and Germany fought so many wars with millions killed but today look at them. When this Kashmir issue is solved, when they get their rights, we will have the same peace and prosperity in the region. God willing, that day isn’t far.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked his Pakistani counterpart on Saturday for his “cooperation” on the visa-free corridor allowing Indian Sikhs to visit Kartarpur. “I would like to thank the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, for respecting the sentiments of India. I thank him for his cooperation,” Modi said in televised comments from the inauguration of the corridor on the Indian side of the border, in a rare message of gratitude between the nuclear arch-rivals.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressed the ceremony and welcomed Sikh pilgrims on behalf of the premier and government of Pakistan. “This is a historical day, one where a path of love has been inaugurated,” he said. He said it spread a message of religious tolerance.
This is a new page of history and history will remember you, he told the premier. He invited Sikhs from all over the world. “Katarpur’s doors have been opened for you.”
I wholeheartedly say welcome, he said, inviting Sikhs from Canada, USA, UK, Europe and Australia to come experience our love and hospitality.
Baba Guru Nanak’s was a message of peace and love, he said. We must, in this time, see who is sowing the seeds of hatred. He said this is a moment of peace and love and that he wished the same could be said of the situation in Kashmir. He thanked PM Khan for overseeing the Kartarpur project.
One year ago, he promised the people of India, that he would open a route of peace, and he has fulfilled it, he said. I would remind PM Modi, 70 years ago your prime minister promised our people something, let Kashmir be decided according to the UN resolutions, he said. Qureshi asked PM Modi to open Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid to be opened for Kashmiri Muslims the same way Kartarpur has been opened.
Pakistanis, if the Berlin War could fall before your eyes and the Kartarpur Corridor could be inaugurated, the Line of Control issue could be resolved too, he said.
Noorul Haq Qadri
Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri said Guru Nanak had a message of peace and he is very glad that message is being spread.
Navjot Singh Sidhu
Cricketer turned politician Sidhu was presented a ‘man of the match’ shield. He recited poetry, calling Imran Khan a good friend who had made history.
Khan sahab, you have no idea how far the Sikh community will take you, he said. I speak the words of 140 million Sikhs, he said.
He said what kind of justice was this, that members of their community had cried from 10km away, not being able to reach the gurdwara. He thanked Imran Khan and said he was the first politician to help these 140 million Sikhs. He said he had won people’s hearts.
Sidhu bashed people spreading hate. He reminded everyone of Baba Guru Nanak’s message of peace.
Partition divided Punjab in two and our hearts but we want more he said, thanking Imran Khan for the corridor once again. He denied having credit in the corridor and said it was due to Baba Guru Nanak and PM Khan. “For 70 years, no one listened to us and now he has.”
He is the first PM to open Baba’s house for us, he said. Our hearts are at peace, he said.
Open borders and open hearts, he said. “I have seen big politicians with hearts like small birds, but you, Imran Khan, have a heart as wide as an ocean.”
You didn’t look at the benefits and costs, you did this for Allah, he said. Imran Khan solved something in 10 months that plagued my father and uncles for 70 years, he said.
I wait for the day I can come to Lahore for breakfast, have breakfast and do trade and walk back the same day, said Sidhu, urging the opening of all borders.
He also congratulated PM Modi. Despite our political differences, you’ve done one good thing so I say thanks, he said. We aren’t here to party, we’re here for Baba Nanak, he said.
Over 10,000 pilgrims are expected to attend the inauguration via the corridor. The project was announced last year by Prime Minister Khan and completed by both the Pakistani and Indian governments.
Pakistan had announced that pilgrims visiting the gurdwara would not need passports to enter, however, the Indian government rejected this. It also rejected the idea that the pilgrims do not have to inform the government 10 days before.
The government has, however, waived the requirement of a $20 service fee on November 9 and 12.