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09.11.2019 19:57 News >> Pakistan Opens Border Crossing For Indian Sikh Pilgrims

Pakistan Opens Border Crossing For Indian Sikh Pilgrims

Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurates Kartarpur crossing to revered Sikh temple.

Pakistan on Saturday opened a key border crossing with neighboring India for Sikh pilgrims ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, founder of their religion.
A giant gate was opened with a ceremony at Zero Point, a border that connects Pakistan's northeastern Narowal district to Indian Gurdaspur city, footage aired on state-run Pakistan Television showed.
A group of Sikh pilgrims, men and women, led by former Indian premier Manmohan Singh entered the Pakistani side of the border to mark the official opening of the crossing.
"This is a historic moment," the two-time Indian premier told reporters in a brief talk, thanking Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan for "understanding India's wishes and turning Kartarpur into reality".
The delegation also included Chief Minister of India's Punjab state Amarinder Singh, former Indian cricketing star Navjot Singh Sidhu, Bollywood star Sunny Deol and other dignitaries.
This is the first time since the partition of Pakistan and India in 1947 and the division of the province of Punjab, where the Sikh religion was founded, the pilgrims have been able to visit their revered temple.
Footage showed the pilgrims being taken in a bus to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara -- the final resting place of Baba Guru Nanak, who died in 1539.
The distance between Kartarpur, where Baba Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life, and the town of Gurdaspur in India is merely 3 kilometers (2 miles). But the closure of this crossing meant that Sikh pilgrims from India had to travel hundreds of kilometers to another border crossing Wagah.
Pakistan's premier Khan in his address at the ceremony welcomed the Sikh community to the country and expressed hope to resolve the longstanding Kashmir dispute with India.
"Whatever is happening in Kashmir is more than a territorial issue. It's a human rights issue," he said, referring to the near-complete lockdown of Indian-administered Kashmir, which New Delhi claims has been lifted.
Former cricketer Sidhu in an emotional speech thanked Pakistan.
"You [Khan] have won the hearts of 140 million Sikhs. The dream of our four generations has come true," he said.
The border opening came amid heightened tension between the two South Asian neighbors over New Delhi's move to lift special provisions of Jammu and Kashmir, a Himalayan state that both India and Pakistan hold in parts but claim in full. -



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