Prime Minister Imran Khan performed ground-breaking of four kilometers-long Kartarpur Corridor in district Narowal this afternoon.
The ground breaking was followed by religious rituals of the Sikh community.
Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Federal Ministers Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Shafqat Mehmood, Governor Punjab Chaudhry Sarwar and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, PTI leaders Naeem ul Haq, Usman Dar and other senior officials were present on the occasion.
An Indian delegation comprising Indian Minister for Food Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister for Housing Hardeep S. Puri, Indian Punjab Minister for Local Government and Tourism and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu and Indian journalists along with a large number of Sikh yatris also witnessed the ceremony.
The Corridor will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of Narowal district with Dera Baba Nanak in India's Gurdaspur District.
Pakistan will build the Corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab's Gurdaspur district upto the border will be constructed by India.
It will facilitate the Sikh pilgrims visiting their most sacred sites in Pakistan.
The initiative for opening the corridor was taken by Pakistan which was later endorsed by the Indian side.
Addressing the ceremony, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Noor ul Haq Qadri said Baba Guru Nanak Dev spread the message of oneness of God and love, peace and humanity.
He said Pakistan is the safest country for minorities and it protects the religious sites of all communities. The Minister said Kartarpur Gudwara will be turned into a state of the art place by Auqat Department. He said in November next year, the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak will be observed in a befitting manner by government and people of Pakistan.
Referring to the embrace of Navjot Singh Sidhu with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, he said such embraces can bring people closer to each other. He said only talks can lead to resolution of problems.
Speaking at the ceremony, Indian Punjab Minister for Tourism and Culture Navjot Singh Sidhu religion should never be seen through the prism of terrorism and politics. Navjot Singh Sidhu said we need to revise the thinking about peace. He said the bloodshed and violence should be stopped for the sake of peace as war is not solution to any problem. He said this corridor will connect the hearts of people. The Minister said the opening of corridor by Imran Khan will be written in golden words in history.
Navjot Singh Sidhu said the governments of Pakistan and India are equally appreciable for facilitating to realize the dreams of over 120 million Sikhs around the world. He said both governments need to think of moving ahead in their relations. Sidhu said the improvement of relations between Pakistan and India can open many benefits for the people of the two countries.
Sidhu expressed good wishes for Prime Minister Imran Khan and thanked his efforts for opening the highly religious place of Sikhism.
Indian Minister for Food Harsimrat Kaur Badal said today is a very important day in history as this has brought what could not be achieved in 70 years history.
She said the land of Pakistan is a very sacred place for the followers of Sikhism. Terming the Kartarpur as peace corridor, she said this will bring more opportunities for people of both countries besides reducing tensions. She said Baba Guru Nanak lived many years of his life in Kartarpur and practiced agri farming as living. Harsimrat said the wall of hatred between Pakistan and India can also fall like the Berlin Wall fell. She said the ground breaking will prove to be blessing for everyone.
The Indian Minister appealed the Pakistani government to issue a commemorative stamp or coin on the name of Baba Gurunanak. She also asked the government to make a settlement with all facilities at Kartarpur.
Addressing the ceremony, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmoud Qureshi said Pakistan has taken a very meaningful and momentous step by opening the Kartarpur corridor . He was confident that this will have positive impact on the relations between Pakistan and India and the peace and stability of entire region.
The Foreign Minister said this occasion provides a unique opportunity to both Pakistan and India to address all their outstanding issues through result oriented negotiations. He said this course is important to improve people to people contacts and trade relations between the two countries. He said we should spend our resources and energies on poverty alleviation and addressing the problems of the people. He said we will have to take more Kartarpur like initiatives to ensure sustainable peace in South Asia.
Shah Mehmoud Qureshi said that Baba Guru Nanak gave the message of peace and tranquility and Kartarpur corridor is also being opened with the same spirit to reduce distances between the two neighboring countries.
The foreign minister said that Pakistan considers the religious rituals of all the minorities including Hindus, Sikhs and Christians as its cultural heritage and takes pride in it.