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SOURCE: PTI

A provincial minister in Pakistan has proposed the idea of opening a Kartarpur-like religious corridor in the Sindh province areas, bordering India, to allow Hindus and Jains to visit their historical religious sites in this country.

Sindh Tourism Minister Zulfiqar Ali Shah made the proposal on Wednesday while addressing an event in Dubai related to the promotion of tourism in Sindh province, where the majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled. Shah said the corridor could be built in Umarkot and Nagarparkar.

Umarkot is home to Shri Shiv Mandir, which is considered one of the oldest Hindu temples in Sindh. Some people believe it was constructed more than 2,000 years ago. There are also numerous abandoned Jain temples in Nagarparkar, which has a large Hindu population.

He said there were scores of Hindus and Jains who wanted to visit the religious sites in Sindh. A spokesperson for the Sindh government confirmed to PTI that Tourism Minister Shah had discussed this possibility with his department officials. “Zulfiqar Ali Shah mentioned this in a speech in Dubai yesterday since he has talked about it with his departmental officials. But nothing is final as yet as obviously this is also a federal government matter,” the spokesperson said.

For the religious tourists’ facilitation, Shah also proposed to commence a weekly flight from India to Sukkur or Larkana as well. The Pakistan and Indian governments had until August 2019 run a train service, The Thar Express, that connected the border towns of Munabao in Rajasthan to Khokhrapar in Sindh province. The service, after remaining closed for many years, was reopened in 2006 during the tenure of late President Pervaz Musharraf. It was the only rail link between Sindh and Rajasthan.

The Pakistan government opened the Kartarpur Corridor in November 2019 which is around 4.1 kilometers from the Pakistan-India border. The corridor is used regularly by Sikh Pilgrims to visit the sacred Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur – one of the holiest sites for followers of the Sikh faith as it is the final resting place of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, who died in 1539 after living in the Kartarpur town for almost two decades in the 16th century. Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.

According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the community, over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country. Pakistan has some prominent Hindu temples including Param Hans Ji Maharaj Samadhi (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa), Hinglaj Mata Mandir in Hingol National Park of Balochistan’s district Lasbela, Katas Raj complex in Punjab’s district Chakwal and Prahlad Bhagat Mandir in Punjab’s district Multan.

The Evacuee Property Trust Board (EPTB), a statutory board, manages religious properties and shrines of Hindus and Sikhs who had migrated to India following the Partition.