According to a government notification issued on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has appointed Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora as the Ambassador-at-Large for the Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan as part of efforts to attract Sikh pilgrims from around the world.
The notification stated that the leading Sikh leader will serve in the position on an honorary basis. Arora, who was born in Kartarpur, Narowal, is also the central general secretary of the Pakistan Muslim League’s minorities wing. His family has a long history of protecting and caring for the Sikh holy sites at Kartarpur.
His appointment comes as Kartarpur has failed to attract the number of visitors Pakistani authorities expected after opening the critical holy site for Sikhs, particularly those in India. The Kartarpur corridor connects the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab state. The 4 km-long corridor allows Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the Darbar Sahib without requiring a visa. In November 2019, the then Prime Minister Imran Khan formally inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor as part of the commemoration of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in a colourful ceremony, paving the way for Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit one of their religion’s holiest sites in Pakistan, without requiring a visa. According to his profile on the Punjab(referring to the Punjab province in Pakistan) Assembly website, Arora, 48, was elected to the provincial assembly of Punjab for the second consecutive term in 2020.
During his first term in the Punjab Assembly, from 2013 to 2018, he was the first Sikh parliamentarian since 1947. Arora chaired the Standing Committee on Commerce and Investment from 2014 to 2017, and the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Minorities Affairs from 2017 to 2018. According to his profile, he was a key figure in the passage of “The Punjab Sikh Anand Karaj Marriage Act 2018,” which made Pakistan the first country to enforce the Sikh Marriages Registration Act. He was also a member of the Government of Punjab’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and a member of the National Commission for Minorities under the Ministry of National Harmony from 2011 to 2013.