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USCIRF Lists Opening of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor as Positive Development

April 29, 2020 | By

Amritsar/Chandigarh: The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has listed the opening of Kartarpur Sahib corridor as a positive development in its Annual Report 2020.

While sharing its observations and notes on state of religious freedom in Pakistan, the USCIRF listed opening of Kartarpur Sahib corridor and laying the foundation stone of Baba Guru Nanak Dev University in Nankana Sahib.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur Sahib

There were positive developments in 2019, such as the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor with India, allowing Sikh pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Punjab Province; Prime Minister Imran Khan laying the foundation stone of Pakistan’s first Sikh university; and the reopening and renovation of a Hindu temple in Sialkot“, the report reads.

Notably, Kartarpur Sahib corridor was opened in November last year on the occasion of 550th Parkash Gurpurab of Guru Nanak ji. The corridor was opened amidst heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. The corridor connects Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur Sahib in Narowal district of West Punjab with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of East Punjab.

A bilateral agreement between India and Pakistan enables upto 5000 Guru Nanak Nam-leva  to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur Sahib through the corridor.

USCIRF also noted that “[t]he government has taken steps to address educational material with discriminatory content against religious minorities”.

USCIRF On Overall Situation of Religious Freedom in Pakistan:

On overall situation of religious freedom in Pakistan, the commission noted: “In 2019, religious freedom conditions across Pakistan continued to trend negatively. The systematic enforcement of blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws, and authorities’ failure to address forced conversions of religious minorities—including Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs—to Islam, severely restricted freedom of religion or belief”.

Recommends to Re-Designate Pakistan as “Country of Particular Concern”:

The commission recommended to re-designate Pakistan as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), and lift the waiver releasing the administration from taking otherwise legislatively mandated action as a result of the designation.

Notably, CPC is like a “blacklist” and counties included in this list may be subject to sanctions by US government if they do not improve their records.

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