DERA NANAK: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday for what he called the latter’s “cooperation” on a visa-free corridor allowing Indian Sikhs to visit one of their religion’s holiest sites across the border in Pakistan.

“I would like to thank the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, for respecting the sentiments of India. I thank him for his cooperation,” Mr Modi said in televised comments at the inauguration ceremony of the corridor held on the Indian side of the border, in a rare message of gratitude between the neighbours.

The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev had brought “us immense happiness”, said the Indian leader.

“Visit to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib will become easy now,” he said at the inauguration event here before opening the integrated checkpost for the corridor that connects the holy site in Indian Punjab’s Gurdaspur district with the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara across the border.

Releases special coin and postal stamps at a function organised on the Indian side of the border

“I thank all who have been associated with the construction of the corridor,” he said.

Donning a saffron turban, Mr Modi said at the function organised by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee that the corridor and the integrated checkpost would serve thousands of Sikh devotees daily.

“Guru Nanak’s teachings are being translated into various languages so that the next generation can also be enriched from them. We must vow to imbibe the preachings of Guru Nanak, which are still relevant,” the Indian prime minister said.

“Every Sikh Guru, starting from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, made efforts for the unity, defence and security of India. It is this tradition which has been carried forward by the Sikhs in the independence struggle and thereafter in protecting the country.”

Expressing gratitude to Unesco for helping in spreading the message of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, he said after the abrogation of Article 370, the Sikh families in India-held Jammu and Kashmir could exercise their rights like other Sikhs across the country.

Mr Modi also released a special coin and postal stamps on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2019