UPDATED June 28, 2008 At 9pm, New Delhi

Mukherjee said:

Kuldeep Singh Wadala, the president of the Kartarpur Langha Committee, said: It would be a dream come true. We have been struggling for many years to get this corridor and wish that the visit of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will bring fruit.

Dr. Pritpal Singh, the convener of the American Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (AGPC), described it as a long pending demand of the Sikh Diaspora. They would also appeal to the Pakistan Government to respond positively to build the corridor without any further delay.

NRI Dr. Rajwant Singh, the president of a Washington-based NGO, said that it would really be a happy moment for the Sikhs if the Government of India moved in the direction of building a corridor between the two countries.

Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Parnab Mukherjee gave green signal
to Open route to Kartarpur Sahib


Dera Baba Nanak, June 28, 2008

Desk has been cleared for providing a direct express link between the holy city of Sri Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan and Dera Baba Nanak in India. An indication to this effect was available this afternoon when the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Parnab Mukherjee assured the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr. Parkash Singh Badal that the Governments of the two countries were closing in on a mutually agreeable outcome to the oft raised Sikh demand for a direct corridor between the two historically and religiously significant towns divided by the International Border between India and Pakistan.

Mr. Mukherjee infact went on a step further and told the media persons that a high powered group of Indian experts and officials would conduct a feasibility study for the construction of barbed corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan. The feasibility study followed by the strategic clearance from Government of Pakistan would form the basis of locational alignment of the express link, said he. Mr. Mukherjee was here today at the special invitation of Mr. Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister Punjab..

Talking to media persons Mr. Mukherjee said that Government of India is fully aware and alive to the sanctity and significance of the issue and the Government of India, he said has already taken up the matter in full detail with its Pakistani counterpart. He said that he had personally conveyed Mr Badal's feelings on the subject to the visiting Pakistani Minister for External Affairs, Shah Mahmood Qureshi during the meeting in New Delhi. He assured the Chief Minster that Government would speed up its efforts through diplomatic channels for an early and expeditious realization of the dream of the Sikh community for a free access to the holy city in Pakistan, made immortal by its association with the first Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Mr. Parkash Singh Badal thanked the Union Minister of External Affairs for his favorable response to the request forwarded by the entire Sikh Community and was unspeakably gleaming with the contentment and happiness of a true Sikh whose earnest prayers for an opportunity to pay obeisance at the holy place that he has been deprived of has bore fruit. He was accompanied by Mr. Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Speaker Punjab Vidan Sabha, Mr. Rattan Singh Ajnala, MP, Mr. Harcharan Bains, Media Advisor and Mr. Kuldip Singh Wadala, Ex-MLA.

With a green signal from the Union Minister, the proposed corridor from Indo Border to the historic and holy town of Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, now seems to be a virtual reality, said Mr. Badal. He informed that he had been repeatedly urging the centre especially Prime Minster Dr. Manmohan Singh and Minister of External Affairs to actively pursue the matter with their counterparts across the border. In his two letters to the Prime Minster early last year, Mr. Badal had emphasized the importance of the corridor both as an important artery for religio-cultural tourism as well as economic prosperity and development of the region.

Mr Badal said that the Punjab Government would go out of its way to modernize strategic infrastructure in and around Dera Baba Nanak area. He said that this border segment would be provided with the State of art super expressway connection with the International Airport at Amritsar and with the rest of the State. He said that in view of the expected boost in business and trade activity consequent upon the realization of the proposed corridor the State Government would upgrade not only all the vital linkages to the area but also key services like education and health facilities.

Mr. Badal said that he personally regarded the successful resolution of the people's demand in this regard as his Government's humble tribute to the everlasting message of the great Gurus. Mr. Badal disclosed that he had requested the Prime Minister for integrating this project with the nation wide Guruta Gaddi Divas Celebrations. He said that subsequently the media had also taken up this issue.

Chief Minister Punjab said that the corridor would be a means of hassle free pilgrimage for the Sikh devotees as a compared to the long, strenuous journey through circuitous route via Wagha, Lahore and Narowal. This, he said, in the long run would help foster better relations between the two countries and would further give a push to the on going Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan. "The corridor to the holy shrine would in time to come turn out to be the corridor for peace and prosperity", claimed Mr. Badal.