Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu wrote a letter to the Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar, seeking permission to attend the opening ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan. He had also written to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in this regard.
The corridor is between neighbouring nations of India and Pakistan, connecting the Sikh Shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in Punjab, India and Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Punjab, Pakistan. It is intended to allow religious devotees from India to visit the Gurudwara in Kartarpur, 4.7 kilometres from the India-Pakistan border, without a visa but with a passport.
The Kartarpur Corridor was first proposed in early 1999 by the then Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, respectively, as part of the Delhi-Lahore bus diplomacy. On November 26, 2018, the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor was laid down on Indian side; two days later, it was laid down on the Pakistani side. The corridor was completed ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019. India has constructed the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district up to the border, while Pakistan has built the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9 at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.
According to PTI, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Amrinder Singh and Union Minister Hardeep Puri were among the 575 people who were a part of the inaugural jatha (group of Sikhs) to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.
Mr Sidhu’s letter states: “It is brought to your kind notice that I have been invited by Pakistan government for the opening ceremony of Shri Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on November 09, 2019. As a humble Sikh, it shall be a great honor to pay obeisance to our great Guru Baba Nanak, on this historic occasion and connect to our roots. Therefore, I may be permitted to visit Pakistan for this auspicious occasion.”
Congress leader had triggered a controversy after he had hugged Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa at Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony last year. He had claimed that Mr Bajwa had told him that Pakistan was making efforts to open the corridor. Furthermore, he was involved in a murky exchange after he attacked Chief Minister Amarinder Singh during the national election. He later blamed Singh for losing seats in Punjab and then resigned from the state cabinet after his ministerial portfolio was changed.