LAHORE: After protracted negotiations, Pakistan and India have finally signed an agreement to open the Kartarpur corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, one of Sikhism’s holiest pilgrimage sites in Narowal district of Punjab visa free.The issue of a $20 service fee imposed by Islamabad however, remained unresolved.
The agreement paves the way for the inauguration of the Corridor next month ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, and will enable devotees to visit throughout the year the holy shrine located around 6 km from the border in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
The signing ceremony took place at the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor Zero Point, International Border, Dera Baba Nanak.
It marked the end of what Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal described as “very difficult and tough negotiations”. In a tweet, Muhammad Faisal also shared full text of Kartarpur Corridor agreement signed between Pakistan and India.
The ministry has released a list banned items for the pilgrims visiting the Sikh shrine. In the agreement, pilgrims will not be able to carry with them WiFi broadband equipment, flags, banners, liquor and any item that challenges the territorial integrity of India or Pakistan. These items have been placed on the list of banned goods for pilgrims.
Under the agreement, the Indian government will inform Pakistan authorities about the list of the pilgrims 10 days in advance and pilgrims will be notified through mail four days ahead of the travel. The travel will be visa free and the pilgrims will have a choice to visit individually or in groups, and also to travel on foot. Pilgrims need to carry only a valid passport and Persons of Indian Origin need to carry Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card along with the passport of their country.
The Corridor will be open from dawn to dusk and the pilgrims travelling in the morning will have to return on the same day. The Corridor will be operational throughout the year, except on notified days, which will be informed in advance.
The Pakistan side has assured India to make sufficient provision for ‘Langar’ and distribution of ‘Prasad’.
The main issue that has been a point of discussion is the insistence of Pakistan to levy $20 as service charge per pilgrim per visit, Das said. Children below 13 years and elderly persons of about 75 years and above should be kept in group.Eco-friendly material, preferably cloth bags should be used & surroundings should be kept clean. Currency limitation of maximum 11000/- INR must be followed. Only one baggage upto 7 kg weight including drinking water may be carried.
LAHORE: After long sessions of negotiationsand after many ups and downs, Pakistan and India have finally signed an agreement to open the Kartarpur corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, one of Sikhism’s holiest pilgrimage sites in Narowal district of Punjab without a visa.
A six kilometres long, the corridor will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, the last resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak DevJi, with Dera Baba Nanak Sahib, another Sikh holy site in the Indian state of Punjab.
The agreement was signed by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry official Dr Mohammad Faisal and Subhas Das of India’s Home Affairs Ministry at the border crossing close to Kartarpur Gurdwara on Thursday.
The agreement is being seen as rare cooperation between the two bitter neighbours after a military confrontation in February that saw Indian warplanes violating Pakistan’s airspace and dropping bombs and Pakistan downing two Indian jets following retaliatory air strikes inside Indian Occupied Kashmir.
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“The signing of the agreement, despite the challenging environment is unprecedented and reflective of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment towards facilitating Nanak Naamlevas to visit their most reverential place of worship in line with Pakistan’s Kartarpur initiative and groundbreaking ceremony last year,” says the statement.
“You can call this
baby steps,” said Dr Mohammad Faisal, Director General (South Asia & SAARC) at Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, while speaking at the signing ceremony.
He was referring to the possibility of normalization between the two arch nemeses whose relations are currently at the lowest ebb following the revocation of Indian Occupied Kashmir’s special status by New Delhi.