India-Pakistan make progress on Kartarpur corridor
India and Pakistan have broadly agreed on modalities of visa-free travel by Indian pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan using the Kartarpur corridor but both sides have failed to finalise a draft agreement over insistence of Pakistan on charging a service fee from Indian pilgrims and not allowing protocol officials to accompany them.
India and Pakistan on Wednesday agreed on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan using the Kartarpur corridor. The third round of talks between Pakistan and India on the Kartarpur corridor concluded at Attari, Amritsar. A 20 member delegation from Pakistan had reqached Atari for the talks. INdian side comprised of representatives from MEA, Defence Ministry, union home ministry, Punjab Govt and NHAI.
The two sides agreed on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan without any restrictions. Persons of Indian origin holding Overseas Citizenship of India card too can visit the Gurdwara using the Kartarpur corridor. The corridor will be operational throughout the year and seven days a week and that pilgrims will have a choice to visit it as individuals or in groups.
However during the meeting Pakistan insisted on charging a service fee for allowing pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara, which was not agreeable to the Indian side. Pakistan has also shown its unwillingness to allow the presence of Indian Consular or protocol officials at the Gurdwara premises. Pakistan side was urged to reconsider its position.
It was also decided that 5,000 pilgrims can visit the shrine everyday. The pilgrims will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev. Kartarpur is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the Ravi river, about four km from Dera Baba Nanak. Indian side also urged Pakistan to allowe additional pilgrims on special occasions….the Pakistani officials have agreed to look into the feasibility of the same.
India is building the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district up to the border while Pakistan is building the other part of the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.
India is committed to commence Kartarpur corridor on the auspicious ocassion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. It will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947.
SOURCE: DD NEWS