Pakistan, India sign historic Kartarpur Corridor agreement

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Shafaqna Pakistan: Pakistan and India on Thursday signed the historic Kartarpur Corridor agreement, allowing Sikh pilgrims visa-free access to the religion’s holy site in Punjab’s Narowal district.

Signed by Director General South Asia and SAARC Dr Mohammad Faisal at the Kartarpur zero line, the corridor will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 9. He added that the prime minister had fulfilled his promise.

The Indian side was represented by its Joint Secretary for Home Affairs S. C. L. Das.

Talking to the media after the signing ceremony, Faisal elaborated that pilgrims will be facilitated seven days a week from dawn till dusk.

“Under the agreement, India will provide a list of pilgrims ten days before their visits so that they could be properly received,” adding that the first group will arrive at the pilgrimage site using the corridor on November 9.

The FO official confirmed that Islamabad will five thousand pilgrims daily and “and if there is more capacity we will accommodate them too”.

“Roads and a reception centre have been built in the area.  A huge Gurdwara has been built, which is being described as the biggest in the world.”

The spokesperson further said that details of the agreement will soon be shared but added that the Sikh pilgrims will have to carry their passports and $20 fee will be charged from them.

The FO official also lauded his team’s efforts, saying negotiating with India were not easy because of the history the two countries share.

The shrine is about four kilometres from the border. The crossing and corridor, including a road, bridge over the Ravi River and immigration office, will replace a drawn-out visa process and circuitous journey through Pakistan.

In a statement on Monday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said New Delhi took initiatives to “put in place the state of art infrastructure” and open the corridor for Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the date for the inauguration.

The premier’s announcement came via a Facebook post in which he said that construction work on the Pakistani side had entered the final stage. “Pakistan is all set to open its doors for Sikhs from all across the globe,” he wrote.

“World’s largest Gurdwara will be visited by Sikhs from across India and other parts of the world,” he said.

PM Imran said the Kartarpur Corridor will be a major religious hub for the Sikh community. “[It] will boost the local economy [and] result in earning foreign exchange for the country creating jobs in different sectors including travel and hospitality.”