The corridor to friendship

India and Pakistan usually agree to disagree on all possible matters. In this situation of persisting hostility and mutual suspicion it is heartening to find that New Delhi and Islamabad have agreed on one point. Both countries have agreed to build a ‘corridor’ to Gurudwdara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan just across the international border, on the banks of the Ravi. The corridor will be functional next year on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. It will enable Indian pilgrims to visit the Gurudwara without any difficulty. The name of the river Ravi brings back nostalgic memories to the peoples of India and Pakistan.
Eighty-eight years ago it was on the banks of the Ravi in 1929 that the Indian National Congress in its historic Lahore session adopted the resolution of Purna Swaraj or complete independence for India which then included both the present day India and Pakistan. History cannot be rewritten by any despot or dictator. It was in Lahore jail that martyr Bhagat Singh was hanged by the British in a clandestine manner in the evening instead of in the early morning that was the practice. There still exists a park at Lahore named Bhagat Singh Park. All attempts by communal fanatics at re-naming the Park failed as the people of Pakistan refused to have their – yes, their – martyr’s name obliterated. Bhagat Singh belongs as much to Pakistan as to India.
The Kartarpur corridor will remind the people of the two countries of their common history and heritage. Hope sustains man. The peoples of India and Pakistan can hope that the Kartarpur corridor will eventually prove to be a corridor of peace, amity, friendship and trust, that its inauguration will mark the beginning of burying a bitter past, muddied with the blood of the innocent – tens of thousands of them. One of Guru Nanak’s principal teachings was to shed one’s ego. It is the ego or the imagined idea of one’s own or one’s country’s or one’s co-religionists’ greatness that lies at the root of all wars and strifes. If instead of the usual blame game India and Pakistan can turn a new leaf and pledge to live in peace, both countries will prosper. Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan who has agreed to do the ground-breaking for the facilities at Kartarpur on November 28, need to be told that India will take two steps for every step taken by Pakistan to build an abiding friendship between the two peoples.

Monday, 26 November, 2018