India, Pakistan push Kartarpur Gurudwara issue despite odds
15 March 2019
India and Pakistan on Thursday agreed to go forward with a new cross-border route for Sikh pilgrims to visit the Kartarpur Gurudwara in the Pakistani border village, which is also the second holiest place for Sikhs, despite a flare-up of tensions between the two neighbours following the Pulwama terror strike.
The meeting of officials from both sides, the first after the brief encounter between forces of the two countries, did not, however, point to any cooling down of tensions between the two neighbours.
“Both sides held detailed and constructive discussions,” a joint statement released after their officials met on Thursday at the Wagah checkpoint on their border said.
The two sides will now work out details of the crossing and the route.
The talks were cordial and another meeting of technical experts is planned for next week, they said, adding that both sides had agreed to work towards soon making the route operational.
The Sikh community in India’s Punjab and elsewhere has long sought easier access to the gurudwara in Kartarpur, in Muslim-majority Pakistan.
For the Sikhs, Pakistan is the birth place its founder - Guru Nanak was born in a small village near the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore in 1469. To access the place, however, is no easy as they would have to first secure hard-to-get visas, travel to Lahore or some other major Pakistani city and then drive to the village, which is just 4 km away from the Indian border.
The Kartarpur corridor would give the pilgrims direct and visa-free access to the holy site that will be fenced off.