Located in the Tehsil Shakargarh in Narowal district of Punjab, Kartarpur holds a special place in the hearts of Sikhs. The town itself was established by Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, around 1522 AD and is considered holy by Sikhs. It is home to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, which is the first ever Gurduwara and the place where Guru Nanak Dev stayed for 16-17 years and breathed his last. Since partition, many Sikhs had been deprived of the right for the pilgrim of their holy place. They would often get up on the podium and watch the shrine of Guru Nanak from a top place through binoculars.
Being just few kilometers away they were unable to access the site only because of the international border between the state of Pakistan and India until recently when Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor on 28th November, 2018. Through this corridor, Sikh pilgrims will be able to travel freely between the two holy sites without visas for the first time since partition of India and Pakistan. The border between the two states after freedom from British left many people deprived of their land and religious holy places. With the opening of the corridor, a long standing demand of the Sikh community has been fulfilled. Pakistan had already proposed to follow this plan initially this year but was brought about in action by the newly formed government.
Pakistan’s government says it is showing it is prepared to take concrete steps towards easing tensions with the neighboring country. Indian provincial Chief Minister of Punjab was invited on the opening ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor but the invitation was rejected and instead a small delegation was sent from their side to attend the ceremony. The reaction of Indian media on this account was hateful as ever. Being unable to digest the fact that Pakistan had successfully gained high moral ground through a genuine expression of love for the Sikh Community, the Indian media went into orgy of hate transmission against Pakistan, challenging its motives. This attack by the neighbor country was an insult not only to the Sikh citizens of their country but also the followers of Guru Nanak all over the world. The bankruptcy of media across the border is nothing new.
If we take a look at our history, whenever tension between the two states arise, the local media of India start grinding their teeth and chewing their words in order to incite their domestic listeners. The public sentiment is raised by falsely portraying something in the media whether it be radio in history or television in the current times. The facts are molded in order to spread hatred among people across the border. The fomentation of hate by Indian hosts and anchors, whenever a bold step towards peace is taken by Pakistan or within India.
Take for example the case, when Mr. Sindhu attended Imran Khan’s oath taking ceremony and shook hands with our Chief of Army Staff – something that warmed the depth of my heart. Union Minister of India Harsimrat Kaur Badal was also touched by the love him and Mr. Sidhu received in Pakistan and he stated
“He (Sidhu) seems to have more of love and respect in Pakistan than what I noticed over here. He has some good relationships over there”.
On his return, this great sportsman and visionary was hounded by hatemongers. This leads one to the horrific notion that perhaps media across our Eastern border has been taken over by Hindu Extremism and has consequently shed its responsibilities. If the ‘taking over’ notion is flawed, then as a media person, I am justified to ask my counterparts across the border, if their liberty to report the truth objectively has been taken away by a radicalized government that does not believe in peace. As far as Pakistan is concerned, it will go ahead with all speed to turn this dream into reality, no matter what Indian hate mongers might say or do.
Despite all the negative speech from across the border, I believe that the relationship between the two countries will become better in the coming future. The new government has expressed to enhance the inter-border relations to create a peaceful region. The two countries constitute almost 20 percent of the world’s population and it is crucial for world peace as well that they have non-violent and good diplomatic relations with each other.