India and Pakistan turn to religious diplomacy as peace talks stall

Historic rivals New Delhi and Islamabad have agreed to construct a visa-free hall that traverses their closely militarized border and guarantees to ease bilateral tensions. However political realities might restrict any actual progress towards reconciliation.

Known as the Kartarpur Hall, the five-kilometer passageway connects Sikh shrines from the Indian metropolis of Dera Baba Nanak to the city of Kartarpur in Pakistan, permitting Sikhs in each nations to journey to locations of worship throughout the border with no visa.

The arrogance-building measure is a milestone for the traditionally tense relationship — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi not too long ago in contrast the hall with the autumn of the Berlin Wall. It is also an enormous win for the regional Sikh group, which has lengthy demanded the liberalization of journey to holy locations. Sikhism is the fourth-largest faith in India, however in Muslim-majority Pakistan, it is solely practiced by a small section of the inhabitants.

“Spiritual diplomacy — or utilizing religion to carry folks and nations collectively — has been very a lot a part of Modi’s overseas coverage in his outreach to the neighboring nations within the Subcontinent and past,” C. Raja Mohan, nonresident senior fellow at Carnegie India and a visiting professor on the Nationwide College of Singapore, stated in a notice.

Modi, who leads the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Occasion, tends to emphasise Hinduism as a uniting issue when he travels to Asian nations similar to Nepal and Indonesia which have been influenced by the traditional faith. At residence, nonetheless, the BJP’s right-wing rhetoric and insurance policies have been linked to non secular violence — mob killings and Hindu assaults on Muslims.

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