ISLAMABAD   -   Pakistan is set to complete the work on Kartarpur corridor before November – in time for the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Baba Guru Nanak, officials said on Wednesday.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that the work on the corridor was underway and it was expected to be completed before the November deadline. “The work is quickly being completed.  We hope to do it much before November,” said one official.

Another official said Kartarpur corridor was an evidence of peace efforts by Pakistan. “We keep on extending the goodwill gestures. Kartarpur corridor is a big friendly project,” he added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had inaugurated the ground breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor on November 28 last year. Pakistan took this step to accommodate the longstanding request of the Sikh community, especially from India particularly in view of 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November.

India’s Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri had attended the November 28 inauguration on the Pakistani side.

Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said Islamabad was continuing its spirit of constructive engagement. He said Pakistan also expected positivity from India so that the corridor became reality for 550th birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak.

The two sides have agreed to hold talks on Kartarpur Corridor on April 16. The talks will be on technical matters between the delegates of the two countries.

The corridor will give Indian pilgrims an easy access to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of the Ravi river, in Pakistan, where Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years.

It was former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, who made the first announcement that Pakistan was willing to open the Kartarpur corridor.  He was passed on this information by army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan in August 2018.

Thousands of Sikhs visit the shrine in Pakistan every year. Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is located in the Narowal district. It is built on the historic site where Guru Nanak settled and assembled a Sikh community after his missionary travels. The present Gurdwara is built on the site where Guru Nanak died on September 22, 1539.

The Gurdwara is also notable for its location near the border between Pakistan and India. The shrine is visible from the Indian side of the border as Pakistani authorities generally trim the tall elephant grass that would otherwise obstruct the view. Indian Sikhs gather in large numbers to perform darshan, or sacred viewing of the site, from the Indian side of the border.