Can the Kartarpur Corridor be a fall of the Berlin Wall?

Can the Kartarpur Corridor be a fall of the Berlin Wall?

Tejinder Singh Bedi


Kartarpur Sahib Gurudawara in Pakistan

Addressing a gathering of majorly the Sikh devotees on the occasion of Sat Guru Nanak Dev ji’s 549th birth anniversary yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reported to have likened the project for Kartarpur Corridor to the fall of Berlin. He is reported to have said, “Kisne socha tha ke Berlin Ki deewar gir sakti hai, shayad Guru Nanak Dev ji ke ashirwaad se , Kartarpur ka corridor sirf corridor nahin, jan jan ko joddne ka bahut bada karan ban sakta hai”.

It is applaudable that the PM has raised an expectation of a likelihood of the review of an ideological and political animosity with some prospects of the betterment of the ties between the two partitioned populations, rather two governments post 1947.

Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has also hailed the move highlighting the ‘beginning as a good beginning despite the many challenges envisaged’. At the same time, the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj; who recently announced her decision to stay away from a contest in the ensuing general elections of 2019 on health-constraints has now declined an invitation by Pakistan for the ‘ground-breaking’ ceremony to be presided over by the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan himself, citing prior commitments.

It is heartening instead that Hardeep Singh Puri; the Minister of State for Housing & Urban Affairs and Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the Union Minister for Food Processing representing BJP’s ally the Akali Dal in Punjab instead have been chosen to represent India at the event. On our side, the Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu is slated to lay the foundation stone for the construction of the Dera Baba Nanak — Kartarpur Sahib road corridor tomorrow with Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amrinder Singh and our Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari sharing the honors for the same. Capt. Amrinder Singh on behalf of the Punjab Government has also announced all help for the development of the project. From Pakistan’s side, its Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain has rightly hailed the agreement to facilitate the Kartarpur passage as a victory of the peace lobby in both the countries.

To add weight to the central government’s resolve to push the move the Prime Minister has also announced starting a special train for pilgrims to the corridor final destination. The Indian government has also asked the Pakistan government to keep the corridor open for followers of Nanak throughout the year. All in all, very positive thinking and positive moves for a long pending desire of the followers of Guru Nanak Devji to have free access to the Gurdawaras of Kartarpur Sahib.

Commenting on the development; the Times of India through its leading editorial on Saturday welcomed the move with a rider to exercise caution specifically mentioning that Islamabad may be tempted to package the Kartarpur corridor as its ‘gift’ to Indian Sikhs and attempt to extract reciprocal concessions, as an example ratchet up terror attacks in India while holding the Kartarpur corridor hostage to definition of Indian ‘good behavior’ (!!).

The apprehensions highlighted are nothing but unnecessary fears a leading national daily like the TOI should definitely not have espoused as an impulsive thought in the manner it seems it has been done.

There is none and no connection ever should be seen with ‘terror activities’ increasing just because Sikhism’s first Guru’s final resting place — (where he spent more than 18 years of his illustrious life) may get opened to pilgrims following his teachings and preachings.

Also a great emphasis is being put on the ‘gift of access’ perhaps becoming available only to Sikhs; as the society as in the past from time and again seems to ignore, overlook or forget the basic integration of all the ten Gurus first having been born as Hindus (as Devs, Rais, Das, Bahadur) including even the tenth Guru as Gobind Rai before he created the Khalsa and became a Singh himself.

As such while Sikhism holds its independent and distinctive identity right from the days of Guru Nanak’s foundation of this religion — it has had an equal number of Hindus and even Muslims following his as well as the teachings of all the ten Gurus including the sacred eternal Guru; Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.

It is time leading media houses, editors, writers, journalists and historians stop connecting every apprehension of ‘terror attacks’ with ‘Sikhs only’ and keep such positive developments benefitting followers of Guru Nanak and Sikhism irrespective of their practiced other religions insulated from any political commentary even if in just one part of the world and India, the move coming this year might still appear to be politically benefitting the BJP and the Akali allies in Punjab more today though no one will stop the Congress to make as much out of it given Navjot Singh Sidhu’s first definite move through his timely visit to Pakistan (on the occasion of swearing in of Imran Khan as its Prime Minister and Imran’s immediate support) followed further by the support the initiative is getting from Capt. Amrinder Singh and his party in power in the state of Punjab today.

If prime minister Modi’s lofty vision of the Kartarpur corridor becoming a fall of the Berlin wall is to be realized sooner or later, then the apprehensions shared by the former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to overcome challenges upfront most importantly the need for any political differences among our own major parties to be overcome in this cause would play a dominant role in the otherwise small journey ahead!

(*Author Tejinder Singh Bedi is a former technocrat, a people management, CSR Adviser, free-lance writer and a passionate singer)