It has taken more than 70 years for both India and Pakistan to reach an agreement for the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor to facilitate the Sikhs in India to visit the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. India-Pak relation has been besieged by mistrust and animosity, ever since the partition of 1947. Both, countries have fought four wars without gaining any ascendency. Besides, daily skirmishes and cross border shelling have taken a heavy toll on both sides of the border. In the past, India had made several attempts to better the ties, but each attempt was foiled by forces inimical to peace. The historical Lahore accord, signed by the former Indian Prime Minister, Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, where a consensus was reached to settle all outstanding issues through negotiation. Sadly, before the ink could dry, the then former army chief of staff, Pervez Musharraf captured the Tiger Hill in the Drass-Kargil sector, before India managed to repulse the attack and recapture the hill. Hundreds of soldiers became victims of the ill conceived misadventure of the General. Similarly, when the Indian Prime Minister decided to stop over in Lahore in December 2015, to meet his counterpart Nawaz Sharif, in an attempt to improve ties — was followed by a terrorist attack on an army camp in Uri, where four terrorists, who had sneaked from across the border managed to kill 18 soldiers. The list is endless. The worst attack has so far been the infamous Mumbai attack where over 209 civilians were killed, including foreigners. This caused irreparable damage to the already fragile relations between the two countries. The trial carried out against the perpetrators of the heinous crime has become a travesty of justice. The inaction against the mastermind of the attack led one to believe that they were enjoying the state patronage. The Indian Prime Minister Modi likened the decision by the two countries to the fall of the Berlin Wall, indicating that the project may ease simmering tensions between the two countries. He also felt that the corridor will not only boost tourism, but will give a fillip to the economy of both the countries At a time, when the hope of better relations was slowly receding, a new ray of hope has now emerged with both the countries agreeing to open the Kartarpur corridor linking the ‘Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib’ shrine in Pakistan with India’s Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in Gurdaspur district. The General told Sidhu that he wanted the corridor to be open to mark Guru Nanak’s 550 birth anniversary, which falls next year. On his return, Sidhu, in his press briefing, effusively praised both the Pak Army General and the newly elected prime minister. Predictably, his praise did not go well with the establishment and the proposal elicited a lukewarm response from the Indian government. India felt the proposal ought to have been conveyed to the Indian mission and not to Sidhu, who had gone in a personal capacity. However, in a recent shift in India’s approach towards Pakistan, the Indian Prime Minister Modi likened the decision by the two countries to the fall of the Berlin Wall, indicating that the project may ease simmering tensions between the two countries. He also felt that the corridor will not only boost tourism, but will give a fillip to the economy of both the countries. Mr. Modi also expressed his hope that the corridor would “act as a bridge” between the people of India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s Information Minister, Fawad Chowdhury hailed Modi’s decision as a “victory of peace.” It appears that it was left to the blessings of the great saint, who is revered by the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims, to have acted as a catalyst to resuscitate the moribund India-Pakistan relations. On 19th November, India’s Vice President laid the foundation stone of the corridor on the Indian side, from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, to the international border. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan also laid the foundation stone at the site. Apart from Sidhu, two ministers attended the function. The opening of the corridor has generated tremendous goodwill on both sides of the border, a reflection that the ordinary people of both the countries are fed up with frequent wars and skirmishes at the border, as they look forward to peace between the nuclear armed neighbours. One only hopes that the Kartarpur corridor will succeed in building bridges between the two countries. One also hopes, unlike in the past, this momentous event in the history of both the countries, is not sabotaged by the enemies of peace. There is a lot of hope and expectations this time around, as General Bajwa has extended his support for bettering the ties. It is unlikely that any terror outfit would dare to derail the peace process. The move will facilitate tens and thousands of Sikhs to travel through the fenced roadway to offer prayers at the shrine. The Shrine offers a special place in the hearts of Sikhs, who, till now, have been congregating at the border in huge numbers to get a glimpse of the shrine. The goodwill generated by linking the Kartarpur Gurudwara to Dera Nanak Sahib in India’s Gurdaspur district, is the first step to improve ties between the two countries. In sum, both Pakistan and India have realized the four wars fought during the last 70 years have only caused misery and deaths on both sides of the borders as neither country has benefitted from the war. There is no gainsaying that only a sustained and meaningful dialogue can remove the cobwebs of distrust accumulated since partition. Pakistan can take a leaf out of India-China relations. In spite of the contentious border dispute which led to a war in 1962, both the countries have realised the futility of war and have taken concrete steps to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue and, at the same time, have taken confidence building measures through increased trade and commerce. Both India and Pakistan should realize it will be foolhardy to hope for any miracles, keeping in view the deep rooted animosity between the two countries. The betterment of relations is a long and arduous journey, it is only through sustained talks one can hope to find a mutually acceptable solution. It is hoped that both the countries don’t fritter away this historical opportunity which has provided a beacon of hope for better ties. The author is an independent columnist and a political commentator Published in Daily Times, December 9th 2018.