The Kartarpur Corridor initiative: can it be a corridor of peace and prosperity in South Asia?

International relations International cooperation Religious tolerance India Pakistan

In recent weeks, the media and policymakers in South Asia and beyond have closely followed developments pertaining to the Kartarpur Corridor. The Corridor, opened despite tensions between India and Pakistan over the past year, was inaugurated on 9 November by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Imran Khan, on their respective sides of the India-Pakistan border.

The Kartarpur Corridor will enable Sikhs and other devotees, from India and overseas, of the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Dev, to pay their respects, without needing a visa, at the holy shrine of Darbar Sahib, in Kartarpur, in the Narowal district of Pakistan. Guru Nanak spent the last 17 years of his life at Kartarpur (which town he founded), and propagated the Sikh faith there, along with his followers. Sikhs the world over commemorated the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak’s birthday on 12 November 2019, giving added significance to the inauguration of the Corridor. The Corridor connects Dera Baba Nanak (in India), with Kartarpur, a distance of less than five kilometres.

Although it is still early days, the Corridor is an initiative that has the potential to be a positive force in the India-Pakistan relationship by contributing to a general reduction in tensions, while also helping to facilitate to greater economic linkages and increased people-to-people ties over the border.

Key points:

  • The Kartarpur Corridor, between India and Pakistan, has immense significance for the Sikh Community, which has long wanted easier access to its important shrines in Pakistan.
  • The Corridor could pave the way for closer linkages between East Panjab (in India), and West Punjab, in Pakistan. Achieving that will require considerable leadership on the part of both countries.
  • While the India-Pakistan relationship is complex – with tensions currently running high – the Corridor is a positive development that could, in the long run, open up new opportunities for increased people-to-people links and greater economic ties.
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