Sikhs Trek to Kartarpur Shrine –Including Who’s Who

5000 pilgrims are expected to visit Kartarpur daily. That’s nearly 2 million a year in numbers, but potentially billions in peace gains in the region –if the ostrich is kept away from the sports bar.

DESPARDES — In what’s being considered as one of the rarest master strokes of PM Khan amid ‘zero centigrade’ chill with PM Modi on Kashmir, the former is building bridge of ‘diversity, tolerance, peace and openness in the region’, according to observers of Pak-India relations.

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Sikh pilgrims in thousands from India have already begun trekking the six-kilometer newly built land corridorto Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara across the border. So are Sikh Diaspora– a car-full of them from Canada is coming to Pakistan through Balochistan on way to the revered shrine, a reliable source said.

The shrine brings Khan’s ‘diversity and peace’ bowling to Modi to bat (but) on a pitch made as hard as concrete by the latter in Kashmir –Khan called Modi’s gambit his last card, and his a pure and peace gesture, according to an observer.

PM Modi will inaugurate the corridor from the Indian side according to Indian news agency ANI, while Khan will open the route on Pakistan side.

The inauguration ceremony of the Corridor is tomorrow (Saturday November 9).

Despite the chill, the world is watching the inning. Some observers see it as a silver lining in a hovering cloud in the region considered a nuclear flashpoint for decades.

According to Khaled Almaeena, a Middle East media icon with keen interest in South Asia affairs, Kartarpur celebrations if used prudently will go a long way to ease tensions between Pakistan and India. “Imran has the moral courage to push for better relations and bring economic prosperity to the area.”

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Suresh Ceyyur, an American of Indian-origin who predicted Modi’s second stint could be full of blow hot blow cold, says the move is like early morning dew on hitherto made dry green leaves. “But the present inferior mindset there (Delhi) does not bode well,” Almaeena said.

That the Kartarpur Corridor connects Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Indian Punjab’s Gurdaspur district with Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan however is the reality ‘Rubicon’ albeit a cricket stadium (Khan is a former cricketer) both neighbors are apparently having no issue to play at.

Others are participating and billions are watching is surreal though, said a Bangladeshi-American Mohammad Mobeen.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament (MP) Sunny Deol (a Hollywood actor) will be part of the official ‘jatha’ that will attend the inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor on Saturday November 9, Indian media reported. While confirming the same to Indian media persons, he said “If I won’t go who will? I will definitely go, it is my area and my home.”

Sikhs for decades haven’t had the permission to travel to their shrines in Pakistan– nearly a dozen exist here. With 5000 of them traveling daily to their Mecca across the border and from worldwide, the event is expected to become a sunny side up.

The Kartarpur Sahib Corridor also paves the way for policial figures like Deol and others to be at the shrine for the 550th birth anniversary of the Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.

Apart from Sunny Deol, the first group of Sikh pilgrims to Kartarpur includes former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Union Ministers Hardeep Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal, reported Indian media NDTV.

Indian cricket star and former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu is also one of the who’s who attending the ceremony.

Khan’s government may be faced with headwinds at home on a number of issues, from politics to economics, yet his successes on foreign fronts could not be denied, says analyst Rashid Husain Syed who’s presently based in Toronto and writes for Globe and Mail. Toronto Star, BBC, Arab News, Dawn and others.

“Kartarpur has been his master stroke. It cornered New Delhi, compelling an adamant India to talk and come to an agreement with Pakistan on the issue, basically due to its domestic compulsions. India had no other option. It also helped improve the image of Pakistan in the comity of nations. And the move also helped generate extraordinary goodwill among the vibrant Sikh community within India and abroad. This is an achievement in the current scenario. This carries strategic consequences for both India and Pakistan.”

5000 pilgrims are expected to visit Kartarpur daily. That’s nearly 2 million a year in terms of numbers, but potentially billions in peace gains in the region –if the ostrich is kept away from the sports bar.