A corridor that will allow Sikhs to cross from India into Pakistan to visit one of the religion’s holiest sites is to open today, with thousands expected to make a pilgrimage interrupted by decades of conflict.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to see off the first group of pilgrims, who are to be welcomed by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khanat the shrine marking the grave of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak at Kartarpur, just 4km inside Pakistan.
The Kartarpur Corridor marks a rare example of cooperation between the nuclear-armed rivals, who have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947 and in February conducted tit-for-tat airstrikes after a suicide bombing killed 40 Indian troops.
The deal allows for up to 5,000 pilgrims a day to cross a secure corridor and bridge between the two countries, leading directly to Guru Nanak’s grave.
“They are very excited,” Kartarpur shrine custodian Ramash Singh Arora said on Thursday, adding that he hoped the initiative would pave the way for similar access to other Sikh sites in Pakistan. “If you look at the history, the foundation of Sikhism is from Pakistan.”
In the months leading up to the opening, Pakistan employed hundreds of workers to spruce up the shrine, including building a border immigration checkpoint and a bridge, and expanding the site’s grounds.
India had long been asking Pakistan for such a corridor, but years of diplomatic tensions put plans on hold.
The opening comes just days ahead of Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday on Tuesady, which is marked with celebrations by millions of Sikhs around the world.
“For over 70 years, pilgrims haven’t had the chance to cross over, to come over and that is just ... it’s just ... it’s going to be a really emotional moment,” Malaysian pilgrim Karan Deep Singh said.
Others hoped the corridor would help mend ties between the rivals after years of hostility.
“It should improve and I’m hoping that it will improve. Definitely. Because the goodwill is oozing,” Bhajan Singh Grewal from Australia said.
The Sikh faith began in the 15th century in the city of Lahore, which is now part of Pakistan, when Guru Nanak began teaching a faith that preached equality.
There are an estimated 20,000 Sikhs left in Pakistan after millions fled to India following partition in 1947, which sparked the largest mass migration in human history and led to the death of at least 1 million people.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big