New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation in the 50th episode of his radio broadcast Mann Ki Baat, hailed the government’s decision to open the Kartarpur Corridor, which is expected to give pilgrims from India easy access to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Narowal district. It is a place where Guru Nanak Dev had spent the last 18 years of his life.

“The government has made a very important decision — that of opening the Kartarpur Corridor so that people of our nation can easily go to Kartarpur in Pakistan and visit the sacred place of Guru Nanak Dev,” said PM Modi in Mann Ki Baat.

Meanwhile, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj wrote to Pakistani authorities that she is caught up with prior commitments and two other ministers will go to Pakistan on her behalf to attend the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the corridor. 

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Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal (minister for food processing industries) and Hardeep Singh Puri (Union MoS, housing and urban affairs) will be present for the ceremony on November 28, where Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and state minister Navjot Singh Sidhu were also invited. Amarinder, however, turned down the invitation citing terrorist attacks in Punjab and the killing of Indian soldiers by Pakistan.  

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will lay the foundation stone for the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on the Pakistani side on November 28, and Indian President Ramnath Kovind and Amarinder will lay the foundation stone on the Indian side on November 26.

On November 22, the Indian cabinet approved the construction of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, which would facilitate the movement of pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan.

The corridor will extend to the international border and the project will be funded by India.

Sikhs in the US have hailed the Indian government's decision to build the corridor. Earlier, a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Modi was submitted by a delegation of Sikhs from various parts of the US under the banner of California-based United Sikh Mission.

"The distance from the border to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib is three kilometres into Pakistan... Pilgrims from India will be able to go to the gurdwara with an official Indian ID without needing a visa from Pakistan or any other complicated formalities hurting the pilgrims who are not that technology savvy. Pilgrims must return to India the same day after attending the services," the memorandum said.

The Prime Minister hinted at a grand plan for Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th birth anniversary next year. He said, “Guru Nanak Dev ji always thought about the welfare of the entire humankind. He led the society on a path of truth, work, service, kindness and brotherhood.”

Modi added that the celebration of the first Sikh gurus 550th birth anniversary next year would be an international event.