Photo released by Pakistan's Press Information Department (PID) shows that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (Front) delivers a speech after the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province, on Nov. 9, 2019. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor to allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit a holy shrine in Narowal district. (PID/Handout via Xinhua)
ISLAMABAD, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday inaugurated a corridor to allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit a holy shrine in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province.
The Kartarpur Corridor was inaugurated at a largely-attended gathering of Sikhs from India and several other countries on the historic occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Sikh spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Khan called for cordial relations with India and said both countries can address the problem of poverty. He said Pakistan and India can resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue.
Earlier in a statement, Khan said the inauguration of the corridor is also a testimony of the Pakistani government's commitment towards peace of the region.
"Today Pakistan has not only opened its border but also hearts for the Sikh Community. This unprecedented gesture of goodwill from the government of Pakistan is a reflection of deep respect for Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji and religious sentiments of Sikh Community who always wanted to have an easy access to the shrine of their spiritual leader and perform their religious obligations," he said in a statement issued ahead of the opening ceremony.
"The road to prosperity of region and bright future of our coming generation lies in peace. We believe that interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence will provide us an opportunity to work for larger interests of people of the sub-continent," Khan said.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi told the opening ceremony that Pakistan will welcome Sikh pilgrims from across the world.
Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who attended the opening ceremony, described it as a "historic day" for the Sikh community.
"I hope India and Pakistan relations improve enormously as a result of this beginning. It is a big moment," Singh told reporters as he arrived for the ceremony.
Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood told diplomats in the capital Islamabad this week that Pakistan will permit 5,000 Indian pilgrims of all faiths without visa, per day, seven days a week, throughout the year, with the provision for additional numbers on special occasions, subject to capacity.
The Kartarpur Corridor is located nearly four kilometers from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of India's state of Punjab.
Pakistani officials say besides the Kartarpur Corridor, pilgrims from India would be coming through Wagah border as well. Similarly, thousands of pilgrims from across the world, especially from countries with large Sikh community, will be coming to Pakistan to pay homage to their spiritual leader.
As a special gesture on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, Pakistan has waived pilgrims from carrying passport for the 550th celebrations.