by Dr. Ayaz Ahmed
The Kartarpur Corridor is a visa-free border crossing and comfortable corridor, connecting the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan to the border with India The crossing allows Sikh devotees from India to visit the gurdwara in Kartarpur. On the 550th birthday of Baba Guru Nanak, Pakistan is gifting Sikh community an opportunity to visit and pray in the temple of Guru Nanak which was once a dream for them. In the past, the Sikh community used to pray from at a distance of approximately 4.7 km because of border issues or Sikh pilgrims from India had to take a bus to Lahore to get to Kartarpur, which is a 125 kilometres (78 miles) journey. Even though people on the Indian side of the border could also physically see Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur from the Indian side from an elevated observation platform. But after the initiative was taken by Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr Imran Khan, the Kartarpur corridor is now open for the Sikh community. This brings happiness in the
Sikh community and it’s beneficial for Pakistan as well. Government of Pakistan will charge a mere USD 20 from each Sikh member which is planning to visit the temple. This provides a golden opportunity of capital inflow in Pakistan. Other than that, it’s a new beginning of huge trade among Indian and Pakistani Punjab. This will also improve the impression of Pakistan in the whole world.
About 27 million Sikhs worldwide are adherents to the fifth-largest religion of Sikhism, making up 0.39 percent of the sector population. The 2011 Indian census mentioned about twenty-Eight million Sikhs living in India. Of these, 16 million or 76% of all Indian Sikhs stay within the northern kingdom of Punjab (India), wherein they shape 58% of the population. Substantial groups of Sikhs, greater than 200,000, stay within the Indian states and union territories of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and more. The Canadian province of British Columbia is also home to over 200,000 Sikhs. This is not just an opening of a corridor as investors are also in line to make their contribution to it. A delegation led by Bhai Sahib Bhai and Dr Mohindar Singh Ahluwalia (Chairman Nishkam group of Charitable Organizations) evinced keen interest in infrastructure development projects especially building rest houses in Kartarpur corridor and Nankana sahib. He also assured to facilitate the initiation of the first phase of the 500 million pounds fund for the Sikh community in Pakistan. This is just the beginning of something huge in terms of capital inflow for Pakistan.
According to a report published by World Bank, it is clearly stated that if right centres are furnished and advertising efforts are made, religious tourism may exceed to 300,000 individuals in every year yielding financial blessings of up to USD 300 million annually. In order to improve its reputation among the international community, Pakistan can also extend this initiative and offer visa on arrival to Sikh pilgrims living in other parts of the world
Keywords: Pakistan, Development, Kartarpur Corridor, Sikh community, Trade, Capital inflow.