Sikh pilgrims can visit Kartarpur without passport, announces Imran Khan
On Friday, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan gave a gift to Sikh pilgrims from India, who are planning to pay a visit to Kartarpur Gurudwara across the border. Khan said pilgrims will not require a passport, only a valid ID proof will do. Further, they can visit the holy site without getting themselves registered ten days in advance, Khan tweeted today. Here's more.
A long-standing demand of Sikhs has been fulfilled
The Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara holds special importance for Sikhs, as the religion's founder, Guru Nanak Dev, is said to have breathed his last there. Earlier, Sikhs could just look at the Gurudwara from Punjab. But last year, both hostile South Asian neighbors took welcome steps to construct a corridor that could allow Indian Sikhs to visit the Gurudwara, located 4 km from the international border.
As per agreement, 5,000 Indians can visit Gurudwara daily
The Corridor, which will be inaugurated on November 9, connects Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Punjab with Kartarpur in Pakistan. According to the agreement, Pakistan will allow 5,000 Indian pilgrims daily, and will charge $20. However, New Delhi asked Islamabad to do away with the fee. Interestingly, Khan said the fee will be waived off for inauguration day.
You can read his tweet here
For Sikhs coming for pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India, I have waived off 2 requirements: i) they wont 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 day of inauguration on Guruji's 550th birthday— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 1, 2019
First batch of visitors includes Manmohan Singh, Captain Amarinder
Khan's tweet comes days after India shared a list of 575 pilgrims, who will visit the Gurudwara on November 9. The list includes former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, and Union Ministers Hardeep Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal. The Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) has planned a series of events, spanning a week for the visiting pilgrims.
Additional visas will be issued to Indian Sikhs
"To facilitate the 550th anniversary celebrations, the Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi, will issue additional visas to Indian Sikh pilgrims, above the 3,000 limit allowed under the bilateral protocol for their visit to Sikh gurudwaras in Pakistan from November 5-14," the statement said.
Notably, poor Indo-Pak ties had no effect on Kartarpur Corridor
The Corridor is being inaugurated at a time when tensions between India and Pakistan have peaked. Relations dipped after the 2016 Uri attack and nosedived further post the Pulwama attack of February 14. India has been asking Pakistan to act against home-grown terrorism, but the latter has only been crying conspiracy at global stages, more so after Article 370 was revoked by New Delhi.