A Japanese adage rightly says that “A close neighbor is better than a distant relative”. A country can change its friends but altering neighbors is simply out of the question. Neighbors either they are belligerent or peaceful; the state ought to take a proactive and inclusive foreign policy for a conducive environment. Pakistan and India, thus, are fortunate; both states have historical, cultural and religious linkages that need to be materialized under the Kartarpur Corridor. The efforts of Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan for inaugurating the Kartarpur corridor for the Sikh community are admirable, even endorsed by the international community. Khan’s best wishes for the Sikh community at Kartrapur groundbreaking ceremony were praiseworthy when he said that Kartarpur was as the holiest place for the Sikhs as the cities of Mecca and Medina were for the Muslims.

The partition of subcontinent was an excruciating experience for the Sikhs, resulted in the separation of their holiest place the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, is considered the holiest place in Sikhism. Realistically speaking, the division of subcontinent does not change the Primordialism and Sikhs’ old identify of being Sikh or Punjabi. The opening of Kartarpur corridor will for the first time after partition sets the path for Sikhs to visit their holy place and will have positive spillover effects for the region. The term corridor is mostly used for trade and economy activities. For the first, the time term corridor will be used for interfaith harmony between Pakistan and India.

Hindu community in Pakistan also needs a corridor of religious harmony. Kartarpur corridor in the foreseeable future is a feasible option to be capitalized for the Hindus of Kyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab to visit their holiest places in India. India is the largest Hindu state in the world allowing Pakistani Hindus to India will set the trajectory of peace and harmony. According to All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (PHRM), in Pakistan, there are approximately 428 minorities’ places for the Hindu community. Giving adequate attention to 428 worships places of Hindus granting permission to Indian Hindus to visit Pakistani temples will mostly likely wash away the antagonism.

Intriguingly, Pakistan has declared the 1,000 years old Hindu temple Panj Tirth site located in Peshawar as the national heritage of the country. Panj Tirth site is viewed by the Hindus as their sacred place. Temple in Panj Tirth has also been mentioned in their religious book “Hindu Mythology”. Kartarpur Corridor ought to be made two-way traffic for the Hindu communities of both states, visiting their historical temples will consolidate people-to-people contacts and religious ties accordingly. The people of Pakistan wish to visit Indian Sufi shrines. To demonstrate a captivating gesture by India, it should allow Pakistanis under Kartarpur Corridor to live up to their dreams of visiting Indian Muslim shrines. Indian capital New Delhi is widely known as “blessed threshold of the 22 saints” could be the best destination for the Pakistanis.

To espouse the futuristic approach, both states will have to open another interfaith harmony corridor in Sindh bordering with India. The idea of opening a corridor on Sindh’s border with India seems to be naive but Sindhi Hindus inhabiting on both sides of the border are desparately waiting for this miracle to happen. Ideally, a corridor on the Sindh border soon would also be advantageous for the Muslims of both states. Sindh is called the land of Sufis, shrines of Shah Latif Bhittai and Syed Muhammad Usman Marwandi is known as Lal Shahbaz Qalander in Sindh for the Indian Muslims would be the sign of peace and harmony. However, Mohenjo-Daro Larkana, the largest city of the Indus civilization, is one of the most favourite places for the Indians. Indians own Mohenjo-Daro Larkana as Indian civilization, visiting Mohenjo-Daro is an unfulfilled dream of Indians that could be fulfilled under a new corridor in Sindh.

Meanwhile, Stephen Cohen in his classic book “Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum” expresses pessimism and shows a bleak picture about the ties of Pakistan-India, saying there are merely 5 percent conflicts in the world that are unlikely to be resolved, the conflict of Pakistan and India is one of them. Cohen further articulates that South Asia the least economically integrated region of the world, having only 5 percent intraregional trade. According to his book, illegal trade between Pakistan and India is higher than legal trade, ranging the value from $ 200 million to 10 billion dollar annually.

There is a great deal of likelihood to change Stephen Cohen’s pessimism into optimism under Kartarpur Corridor. If the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Kartarpur Corridor are attainable, why can’t both Pakistan and India initiate Economic Corridor to nip the hostility in  bud? The more both states are economically intertwined, the better they will resolve their outstanding issues. Admittedly, India is a huge economic giant thriving economic tie with it will usher the path of prosperity and regional connectivity for Pakistan.

Dost Muhammad Barrech works at the Institute of Strategic Studies a think-tank based in Islamabad.


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One Comment

  1. The article presents a balance stance for India and Pakistan and should be encouraged the author of Pakistan in balancing way