“Burn worldly love,
rub the ashes and make ink of it,
make the heart the pen,
the intellect the writer,
write that which has no end or limit.”
― Guru Nanak, Sri Guru Granth Sahib
With the foundation laying ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor and its attendance by the top leadership of Pakistan and our guests from the Sikh community across the globe as well as some reluctant Indian delegates, a new era of peace and prosperity may be taking shape in South Asia. The historic Japphi(embrace) between General Bajwa and Navjot Singh Sidhu on the day of inauguration of Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr Imran Khan has now transformed into a reality, as Sikh community gets ready to observe 550 years of birth day of bBba Guru Nanak Maharaj Ji.
Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, spread the message of humanity and brotherhood. Najvot Singh Sidhu said “Whenever the story of this Kartarpur Corridor will be written, the name of Imran Khan will be written in golden Words. This initiative of peace is the voice of millions of Sikhs across the globe; the time had come to unite the divided hearts of Punjab by circumstances.
The ceremony also highlights that the message and ideology of Baba Guru Nanak, which remains relevant and applicable even after passage of 550 years, the smiling faces in the grand ceremony indicated that the message of peace was much stronger than the forces of disintegration.
Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Peer Noorul Haq Qadri said: “Our government would issue a postal ticket or a coin regarding the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. He said that the government would set up the Baba Guru Nanak University as soon as possible. He said that the government of Pakistan would consider issuing visas on arrival to Indian Sikh Yatrees.
Leader of Delhi Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Sardar Param Jeet Singh Sarna said that good relations between Pakistan and India were vital for peaceful coexistence. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had won the hearts of the Sikh community by announcing the opening of Kartarpur border. He hoped that nearly 50,000 Indian Sikh Yatrees would visit Gurdwara Janamasthan, Nankana, after the opening of Kartarpur border.
The “Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur” located on the river Ravi bank, District Narowal, holds religious significance for the Sikh community as Baba Guru Nanak had lived there for 18 years until his death in 1539. Under Roman calendar, Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday is scheduled in Nov this year, however, the Sikh community will celebrate the occasion according to the Nanak-Shahi calendar in Nov 2019. Kartarpur corridor is aimed at facilitating the Sikh community in Indian Punjab a visa-free access to visit the shrine of Baba Nanak Sahib Kartarpur, Narowal from Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur, Indian Punjab.
Since the partition, Pakistan has been making all out arrangements including preservation/renovation of Sikh sacred sites and extending facilities to the Sikh pilgrims coming from all over the world. As per estimates, approximately 0.1 million Sikhs want to visit Pakistan from India, Canada, the United States, Malaysia and several other countries every year. To make the Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday celebrations a memorable event, the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) in April this year, agreed/suggested to increase the number of Indian Sikh pilgrims from 3,000 to 10,000.
Unfortunately, Indian media went into overdrive, castigating Pakistan for this peace initiative. While it may appear strange that Indian media, with backing of their intelligence agencies and military establishment, is trying to spoil the atmosphere of peace, there is more to this rhetoric than what meets the eye.
Indian establishment and RSS cabal cannot absorb the new reality that Sikh community should develop any meaningful relationship with Pakistan, even Quad e Azam had offered an olive branch to Sikh community at the time of independence of India and Pakistan,the ecoing of this sentiment today has sent shockwaves into spine of India.
As Prime Minister Imran Kahn stated, in a nuclear overhang, India and Pakistan had no choice but to solve their disputes at the negotiating table. Strategically, a war between India and Pakistan will incur unbearable losses on both Punjabs, Indian and Pakistani sides, and it may lead to total annihilation of more than half of the South Asian population. Many Sikh leaders have already described that they cannot afford a war between India and Pakistan especially when Punjab becomes a battle ground and entire culture and civilization is threatened into extinction.
Sikh community, who loves and preserves Punjabi or Gurmukhi language, finds it very convenient to express their heart when interacting with Muslim Punjabi community, look at the way Navjot Singh Sidhu’s poetry created that aura of peace in just two visits. Indain establishment have kept these two communities apart for too long and the initiative of Pakistani leadership to the Sikh community cannot be digested by head honchos of South block on the Rajpath.
The two Punjabs actually contribute to 50% of bread basket of entire South Asia, there is enormous potential to enhance trade and commerce between both areas, bringing the communities together, India knows that this trend has the potential to create attraction between Lahore and Amritsar, something like a bad dream for BJP and RSS.
It is interesting to note that Indian efforts to steal the water of rivers flowing downstream has affected both Pakistan and Indian state of Punjab, no wonder Sikh diaspora has donated funds for Pakistani dam initiative of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Sikh community in Indian Punjab is resentful of the diversion of their water to other states like Rajasthan, this was a moot point of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwalay Shaheed during his struggle for an independent Khalistan in the eighties.
I will end the paper with a quote from Baba Guru Nanak Ji, something like an echo of Surat al Ikhlass from the Holy Quran:
“There is but One God, His name is Truth, He is the Creator, He fears none, he is without hate, He never dies, He is beyond the cycle of births and death, He is self illuminated, He is realized by the kindness of the True Guru. He was True in the beginning, He was True when the ages commenced and has ever been True, He is also True now.”
― Guru Nanak
The author is a freelance journalist