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Home WORLD No passport, no fee for Kartarpur pilgrims on opening day: Pakistan PM Imran Khan
WORLD - November 1, 2019

No passport, no fee for Kartarpur pilgrims on opening day: Pakistan PM Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has waived entry free for only two days, for Indian pilgrims travelling to Kartarpur Gurdwara to commemorate 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

No fee will be charged on birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev and on the day of the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor.

In a tweet, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he has waived two requirements for Indian pilgrims visiting Kartarpur—they won’t need a passport just a valid ID and no advance booking is required.

“For Sikhs coming for a pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India, I have waived 2 requirements: i) they won’t need a passport – just a valid ID; ii) they no longer have to register 10 days in advance. Also, no fee will be charged on the day of inauguration & on Guruji’s 550th birthday,” Khan tweeted.

India has repeatedly condemned the USD 20 service charge proposed by Pakistan on Indian pilgrims travelling to Kartarpur Gurdwara.

Last week, India and Pakistan signed the much-awaited agreement for operationalizing Kartarpur Corridor on “zero lines” on the border, just weeks ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

The Kartarpur corridor connects the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the corridor in Gurdaspur on November 9 while Imran Khan will declare it open from the other end.

The two sides met on “zero lines” on the border and signed the agreement. The Indian delegation was led by SCL Das, Joint Secretary (Internal Security) in the Home Ministry and the Pakistani delegation by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mohammed Faisal.

Pakistan did not agree to India’s demand to make the Kartapur Gurdwara’s visit, charge-free. Following the low-key ceremony to sign the agreement, New Delhi had expressed disappointment on Pakistan’s refusal to waive USD 20 service charge on Indians visiting Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara and urged Islamabad to reconsider its decision given the “religious and spiritual sentiments” of the pilgrims.

Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had suggested that other government documents like Aadhaar could be used instead of passports for identification. He had also lashed out at Pakistan for demanding the USD 20 as entry fee, saying it was tantamount to putting a ticket on visiting the historic gurdwara.

Sometime back, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal too had slammed Pakistan over its insistence of levying the entry fee on Indian devotees visiting Kartarpur Sahib, saying that the neighbouring country had made a business out of faith. ” The $20 fee each charged by Pak for Kartarpur Sahib darshan is
atrocious. How will a poor devotee pay this amount? Pakistan has made a business out of faith. @ImranKhanPTI’s statement that this fee will boost Pak’s economy & result in earning foreign exchange is highly shameful,” Harsimrat had tweeted.

According to the home ministry, the agreement, which lays a formal framework for operationalising the corridor, stated that Indian pilgrims of all faiths and persons of Indian origin can use the corridor. The travel will be visa-free and pilgrims need to carry only a valid passport. Persons of Indian Origin need to carry OCI card along with the passport of their country.

Addressing the media, Faisal had then announced that under the agreement, the Indian authorities will provide a list of pilgrims 10 days ahead of their visit.

The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev. Both countries will hold events to mark the opening of their sections of the corridor.

The foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor was laid down on the Indian side on November 26, 2018. Two days later the foundation stone was laid on the Pakistani side.

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