Pakistan government has given a green signal to opening Sharda Peeth Corridor, sources told news agency ANI. The opening of the corridor to historic temple town has been a long-standing demand of Kashmiri Hindus.
"Pakistan has decided to open the Sharda temple. Work on the project will start from the current year after which Hindus in Pakistan will also be able to visit the site," Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) member of the National Assembly (MNA) Ramesh Kumar said.
"I am going to visit the place in a couple of days. I will also send a report to Prime Minister Imran Khan," he added.
Welcoming the reports, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said opening of Sharda Peeth temple in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) for Kashmiri Pandits can help India and Pakistan navigate the current impasse.
"Not too long ago I had written to PM imploring GoI to reopen Sharda Peeth, a temple across LoC for Kashmiri Pandits. An initiative like this at a time when Indo - Pak tensions are at an all-time high could help navigate the current impasse," Mehbooba said in a tweet.
The ancient temple of Sharda and the adjacent ruins of Sharada University lie in Neelam Valley, 160 km from Muzaffarabad, and right across the Line of Control in a small village, Shardi or Sardi, where the river Neelam (Kishanganga) converges with the Madhumati and Sargun streams.
Maa Sharda is considered as kuldevi, the principal deity by Kashmiri Pandits. Built around 5,000 years ago, the temple is also the site of Sharda University built by Emperor Ashoka in 237 BC.
The Sharda Peeth corridor, when opened, will be the second religious tract after Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan-controlled territory that will connect the two neighbouring nations.
On November last year, the Indian and Pakistani governments had laid the foundation stone for the 4-km Kartarpur corridor in Punjab. The corridor is expected to be completed by 2019 and will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur -- the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev -- with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev.