Pakistan agrees to visa-free corridor for Kartarpur gurdwara; wants restrictions on Indian pilgrims
Pakistan agrees to visa-free corridor for Kartarpur gurdwara; wants restrictions on Indian pilgrims

This comes even after India has approved facilities wherein up to 5,000 pilgrims can be handled daily and over 15,000 pilgrims on special occasions

In a blow to India, Pakistan has sought to put a number of restrictions on the Indian pilgrims visiting the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan.

A day after both the countries held delegation-level talks on the corridor to discuss modalities, government sources told news agency ANI on Friday that Pakistan has said the capping of Indian pilgrims visiting the shrine per day should be at 700. This comes even after India has approved facilities wherein up to 5,000 pilgrims can be handled daily and over 15,000 pilgrims on special occasions.

The meeting was held at Attari in Gurdaspur district of Punjab on Thursday.

Pakistan while assuring visa-free corridor to the pilgrims has added a condition wherein the pilgrims will be required to furnish a special permit, defeating the basic purpose of having the dedicated corridor, the sources told ANI.

“India has approved state of the art passenger terminal building to handle 5,000 pilgrims daily, 15,000 on special occasions. Pakistan has sought to put a limit this to only 500 pilgrims per day. Pakistan assured visa-free access to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib, however, now Pakistan has asked for the requirement of issue of a special permit to each pilgrim. Defeating purpose of the dedicated corridor,” ANI reported quoting government sources.

Pakistan has also asked India to refused movement on foot by the pilgrims and the travel will comprise of only in groups of 15 people.

While India has made a serious effort to fulfill the long-standing aspiration of the devotees and pilgrims, Pakistan has shown an insufficient and highly inadequate effort by restrictive responses to the Indian requests. The requests were conveyed, in the form of a draft Agreement, to Pakistan a few days ago by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, the sources said.

The Kartarpur corridor will link Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in the Pakistani town of Kartarpur with Gurdaspur district in Punjab. In November 2018, India and Pakistan agreed to set a corridor linking Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur – the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev–to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district. Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.

This comes amid escalating tension between the two countries following India’s preemptive air strike on a terrorist training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Pakistan’s subsequent retaliation. The meeting comes exactly a month after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.