Chandigarh: Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has written to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, urging her to "make every possible effort" on the issue of the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara and saying that Pakistan has shown "positive intent" in providing access to the historic shrine.
This comes after the Punjab tourism and cultural affairs minister had claimed on Friday that Pakistan had decided to allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara just across the border.
In a letter written to the Union minister on Saturday, the cricketer-turned-politician said: "Now an opportunity has knocked on our doors. Pakistan has shown a positive intent towards the long-pending demand of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor. Pilgrims and we all have been demanding this corridor for years."
Sidhu said there was some positivity on this issue when he visited Pakistan for the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan's oath-taking ceremony. But now, with the county's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary saying that the corridor will be opened and even visas won't be required as part of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Devji, it is time for India to take a positive step on this highly emotional issue, he said.
"When opportunity knocks, kindly step up and open the door," Sidhu wrote. "...Appropriate measures on the Kartarpur Sahib corridor must be taken as Sikh sentiments are strongly attached with it. Hoping for a positive response from you (Swaraj)."
Sidhu had faced flak after he returned home last month from Imran's swearing-in ceremony in Islamabad, where he was seen hugging Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Defending his hug with Bajwa, Sidhu had said he was overwhelmed when told that Pakistan was making efforts to allow Indians access to Kartarpur Sahib.
"The opening of this corridor will be a huge thing for the Sikh community all over the world. Even though both neighbours have had sour relations for decades, the corridor, if opened, can bring peace and prosperity between the two countries. This can break barriers, build bridges and improve relations between the two nations," he said in the letter.
Sidhu said that among the various historical gurdwaras in Pakistan, the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara was of great significance. "This is the place where Guru Nanak Devji spent nearly 18 years of his life. The Gurdwara Sahib is very close to the International Border. Such is the sentiment of the pilgrims in India that they visit the border every day just to have a glimpse of this holy shrine with binoculars arranged by the Border Security Force at the border in India's Dera Baba Nanak region," the Punjab minister said in the letter.
"Some touch the holy earth and some depart with tearful eyes, but they are deprived of paying obeisance at this holy shrine. Visa wrangles have deprived numerous pilgrims from reaching this historic gurdwara over the years. The rift between the two neighbours grew so much over the years that even visiting historical gurdwaras at will became a problem," Sidhu wrote.
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Updated Date: Sep 09, 2018 19:57:52 IST