PAKISTAN Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday announced several concessions for Indian pilgrims going to Darbar Sahib gurdwara at Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Punjab where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, spent the last years of his life.
“For Sikhs coming for pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India, I’ve waived off 2 requirements: they won’t need a passport-just a valid ID; ii)they no longer have to register 10 days in advance. Also,no fee to be charged on day of inauguration & on Guruji’s 550th birthday.” Khan tweeted.
India has been seeking a complete waiver of pilgrims’ fee but Khan announced just two-day relief — on the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9 and on Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary on November 12.– in the $20 charge that has been a sticking point in the talks on operationalising the Kartarpur corridor. The border corridor connects Darbar Sahib with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab.
This year marks the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak and on this occasion India and Pakistan have signed an agreement to construct the Kartarpur corridor. It is meant to facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will only have to obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by the founder of the Sikh faith.
Both countries have agreed that Pakistan would allow 5,000 Sikh visitors per day into the country through the corridor, which will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947. Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India.
India is constructing a bridge at the zero point and has urged Pakistan to build a similar bridge on its side that will provide safe and secure movement of pilgrims and address concerns regarding flooding. The bridge is over a creek of which the majority part falls in Pakistan.
The corridor is set to be inaugurated on November 9 when a 575-member Jatha will cross the corridor to to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib. Frmer Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, Union Ministers Hardeep Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal are among the first batch of pilgrims.
Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singn Sidhu has also accepted the invitation of the Pakistan prime minister and will be present on the occasion.