Pakistan’s NCOC has unanimously decided to allow Sikh pilgrims to visit Kartarpur next month under strict Covid-19 protocols amid death anniversary of Baba Gurru Nanak (Joti Jot) on 21 September 2021. It is clarified that Kartarpur Corridor had never been closed by Pakistan for Indian Sikh Yatrees.
Religious tourism has great potential in Pakistan to promote people-to-people contacts in the subcontinent.
Pakistan is home to other significant Sikh shrines i.e in Hasan Abdal, Lahore etc — and a similar formula can perhaps be adopted to let foreign visitors to pay respects at these religious places through a more relaxed visa regime.
Indian government is unwilling to reopen its border and are preventing Indian Sikhs from visiting their holy sites.
The corridor was formally opened by PM Imran Khan in a ceremony attended by hundreds of people, including former Indian premier Manmohan Singh, which was hailed internationally.
With Kartarpur, Pakistan has shown its intentions to facilitate non-Muslim visitors, and a more relaxed bilateral visa formula can help promote religious tourism in the region.
Pakistan has extended a hand of friendship by facilitating Indian Sikhs in their demand to easily access Kartarpur; India must do the same and make arrangements for Pakistanis to visit Muslim sites in their country without hassle.
The promotion of religious tourism and people-to-people contacts should be pursued to reduce hostilities between Islamabad and New Delhi.