Pakistan snubs Modi, invites Manmohan Singh to inaugurate Kartarpur Corridor
In a snub to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistan has decided to invite former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the inauguration ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor, due to be held in November. The corridor will connect the Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur, India, and hence holds great significance for Sikh pilgrims. However, Singh has reportedly declined the invite.
Pakistan Foreign Minister announced decision to invite Singh
On Monday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, "The Kartarpur Corridor inauguration is a big program and Pakistan is preparing for it in a big way." He added, "We've decided to invite India's former PM Manmohan Singh to grace the event... We'll send a formal letter to him soon." He said they're happy to receive Sikh pilgrims celebrating Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary.
Singh rejects Pakistan's invite: Congress sources
However, Congress sources told ANI on Monday that Singh has already asserted that he will not be accepting Pakistan's invitation for the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration, due on November 9, three days before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
Kartarpur Corridor to allow visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims
Since India's partition, Sikh pilgrims have been cut off from the Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on the other side of the border. The Kartarpur Corridor connects Darbar Sahib with Gurdaspur's Dera Baba Nanak shrine and will enable visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims to the shrine in Pakistan. Indian pilgrims would only have to obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib.
Initially, 5,000 pilgrims to use Kartarpur Corridor daily
Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of External Affairs, initially, about 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the shrine from India daily. The limit will later be increased to 10,000. Additionally, India has also asked Pakistan to reconsider its decision to impose a $20 (Rs. 1,415) service charge on pilgrims visiting Darbar Sahib, established by the Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev in 1522.
India, Pakistan building Kartarpur Corridor together
The corridor is being built by both India and Pakistan in part. While Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian side of the border to Darbar Sahib, India will build it from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is constructing the four-lane highway connecting NH354 to Zero Point, along with a passenger terminal.