Snubbing Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's assurances earlier this month that Indian Sikh pilgrims coming to Kartarpur will not need a passport, "just a valid ID", the Pakistan Army has ordered that Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting the Kartarpur Sahib will need a passport to use the Kartarpur Corridor. It will be inaugurated this week. Khan, on 1 November, tweeted:
Pakistan Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor comes a day after India asked Pakistan to clarify whether passport will be required by Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara in Kartarpur. The Kartarpur Corridor, which provides a visa-free access to Indian Sikhs to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, will be inaugurated on Saturday by Khan to mark Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev's 550th birth anniversary. Ghafoor on Wednesday said that Indian Sikh pilgrims will require a passport to use Kartarpur Corridor, Dawn quoted Hum News as saying.
Sources in the Indian government told media outlets that there was an absolute confusion created by Imran's tweet that no passports will be required to undertake pilgrimage. "This requirement is however mentioned in the MOU signed. There has been no offer from Pakistan to amend the MOU in light of Imran Khan's tweet."
"A list of prominent Sikh leaders and other dignitaries who are part of the inaugural 'jatha' to undertake the pilgrimage on 9th November has been sent to the Pakistani side. However,India is yet to receive a confirmation from Pakistan on the list," sources were quoted as saying by ANI.
"As we have a security link, the entry would be a legal one under a permit on a passport-based identity. There will be no compromise on security or sovereignty," Ghafoor said. On 1 November, Khan, while announcing the completion of Kartarpur Corridor on Twitter, said he had waived two requirements relating to passport and registering 10 days in advance for Sikhs coming for pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India.
He said that Sikh pilgrims from India would only need a valid ID and not a passport to travel to Kartarpur. The service fee of $20 for those coming for the inaugural ceremony and on the 550th birth anniversary of the Sikh guru on 12 November was also abolished.
The year 2019 marks the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, whose birthplace is Sri Nankana Sahib in Pakistan. The corridor has been established to commemorate his birth anniversary. The Kartarpur Corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, just four kilometres from the International Border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province.
Notwithstanding a chill in bilateral ties over Kashmir, Pakistan and India after tough negotiations signed a landmark agreement last week to operationalise the historic Kartarpur Corridor to allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the holy Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.
The two countries decided that 5,000 pilgrims can visit the shrine daily. India and Pakistan have also decided that the corridor will be operational through the year and seven days a week and that pilgrims, except kids and elderly persons, will have a choice to visit as individuals or in groups.
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Updated Date: Nov 07, 2019 13:21:50 IST