ISLAMABAD: As part of peace efforts to promote cordial relations between the two countries, Pakistan has presented a proposal to India to build a bridge on the river Ravi to help members of the Sikh community to visit two Gurdwaras, one located in Pakistan and the other in India.
Sources say that Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal is the driving force behind the proposal. He approached Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and convinced him to float the proposal.
An official said if the proposal is approved by India, it would require a new border entry point to facilitate Sikh pilgrims who would find it easier to move between Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Narowal and Dera Baba Nanak Dev Jee in Batala, India, without a tiring journey by road.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is currently visiting India, would be the highest ranked Pakistani leader and Sharif family member to visit the family’s ancestral village Jati Umra, located 35km from the Sikh holy city of Amritsar and about 50km from the India-Pakistan border.
The visit is being termed as a serious effort to bring Pakistan and India closer to each other with the aim of promoting peace and harmony in the region.
Kartarpur is the abode of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion. The Gurdwara is located next to a small village named Kothay Pind on the west bank of the river Ravi.
The original resting place of Guru Nanak was washed away by floods in the river Ravi, and the present Gurdwara was built in its place at a cost of Rs135,600 from funds donated by Sardar Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala. It was subsequently repaired by the Pakistani government in 1995 at a cost of lakhs of rupees.
Now Sikh devotees from Indian Punjab often gather near the fence bordering Narowal district and offer prayers while looking at Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.
When contacted, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said construction of a bridge on the Ravi in Narowal district would greatly help bring people of the two countries closer to each other and help members of the Sikh community visit the final resting place of Guru Nanak.