Pakistan waives passport condition for Indian Sikh pilgrims to Kartarpur

Construction works underway at the Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan side, as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib is seen in the background, Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 | Photo: PTI

Pakistan Foreign Office on Thursday said Prime Minister Imran Khan has waived the condition of passport for one year for Indian Sikhs visiting the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib using the Kartarpur corridor, contradicting an earlier statement by the army spokesman who said the pilgrims will need a passport.

During his weekly media briefing here, Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Faisal said the condition of passports for Indian Sikhs was waived for one year in the wake of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

Prime Minister Khan also waived the requirement to convey pilgrim information to the Pakistani government 10 days prior to entry, and he also waived USD 20 service fee per pilgrim on November 9 and 12, Faisal said.

"We have formally conveyed this to India," he added.

Earlier, Pakistan Army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said that Indian pilgrims visiting the Kartarpur Sahib will need a passport to use the Kartarpur corridor, creating a confusion over the status of passports.

"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," he was quoted as saying in the local media.

On Wednesday, India asked Pakistan to clarify whether passport will be required to visit the Kartarpur Sahib.

On November 1, Prime Minister 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 corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, just 4 kilometres from the International Border, located in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province.

The year 2019 marks the 550th birth anniversary year of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, whose birthplace Sri Nankana Sahib is in Pakistan.

Faisal also said that over 10,000 Sikhs from India and other parts of the world will attend the inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor by Prime Minister Khan on Saturday.

He said that under the agreement about 5,000 pilgrims can come from India per day. "Our missions in other countries have also issued the same number of visas," he said.

Sikhs from Canada, Britain, America, Singapore, Malaysia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, New Zealand and Australia will also attend the inauguration ceremony.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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