A day after Pakistan and India announced they would construct a pilgrim corridor, on both sides of the border, to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invoked the fall of the Berlin Wall to underline the potentially transformative nature of the diplomatic move.
“Kisne Socha that ki Berlin ki deewar gir sakti hai. Shayad Guru Nanak Devji ke aashirwad se Kartarpur ka corridor sirf corridor nahi, jan-jan ko jodne ka bahut of pilgrims’ progress bada kaaran ban sakta hai (Who thought the Berlin Wall would fall. Maybe, with the blessings of Guru Nanak Devji, Kartarpur corridor will not only be a corridor but can be a reason to bring people together,” Modi commented at Friday at a function to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev at the New Delhi home of Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur.
Consequently, the Prime Minister made these remarks after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) accused Islamabad of harassing Indian diplomats and denying them access to Indian pilgrims visiting gurdwaras Nankana Sahib and Sacha Sauda Sahib in Pakistan. Lodging the biggest protest and expressing “grave concern”, the MEA accused Pakistan of promoting “secessionist tendencies” and produced photographs and videos of pro-Khalistan posters at these gurdwaras. South Block sources said these were shared as evidence with the Pakistan High Commission and officials of the Foreign Ministry.
One of the photographs shows Pakistan SGPC general secretary Gopal Singh Chawla, who is stated to have met Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, avoiding Indian diplomats from meeting pilgrims at Nankana Sahib — The Indian Express reported Friday that Indian diplomats were being prevented from meeting Indian pilgrims at Nankana Sahib. “An Indian consular team was stopped by Pakistani security officials for the third consecutive time today at Nankana Sahib. They were stopped from doing their diplomatic duties, even harassed,” sources said. On the other hand, India, sources said, permitted a team of the Pakistan High Commission well as their High Commissioner to visit and meet Pakistani pilgrims headed to Piran Kaliyar Sharif, the dargah of Sufi saint Alauddin Ali Ahmed Sabir Kalyari near Haridwar.
It said Pakistan has been called upon to take all measures to “not permit its territory to be used for any hostile propaganda and support for secessionist tendencies” against India in keeping with the commitments made under the Simla Agreement, 1972 and endorsed in the Lahore Declaration, 1999.