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Pakistan Agrees To Visa-Free, Year-Long Access To Kartarpur Sahib

Pakistan

 

Amritsar: Pakistan on Sunday agreed in principle to allow visa-free, year-long travel to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara for Indian passport holders and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card holders. Throughout the year, 5000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara per day. The pilgrims will be allowed to travel as individuals or in groups and also on foot, Home Ministry’s Joint Secretary (internal security) S.C.L. Das told reporters at Attari near here.

Pakistan agreed to maintain a channel of communication towards the finalisation of the agreement on the modalities of the cross-border Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, assuring that “no anti-India activity would be allowed”. Das led the Indian delegation for the second bilateral meeting at Wagha in Pakistan for finalising the modalities for the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, a gateway for pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.

The Indian delegation comprised representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Government of Punjab and the National Highway Authorities of India (NHAI). The Kartarpur Sahib corridor links India’s Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district with Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan’s Punjab province. The corridor is set to be completed by October 31 and could strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries.

Mohammad Faisal, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan, told reporters at Wagha after the meeting that “an agreement between Pakistan and India has been arrived at over the above modalities. One more meeting is likely to happen.” India raised the demand to allow 10,000 additional pilgrims to visit the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara on special occasions. The Indian delegation also sought consular presence in Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara to be able to provide assistance to the pilgrims, if required.

India urged Pakistan to prevent Khalistan supporters from misusing this historic initiative. “Concerns regarding individuals or organisations based in Pakistan who may try to disrupt the pilgrimage and misuse the opportunity to play with the sentiments of the pilgrims was shared,” a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) statement said. A dossier was handed over to the Pakistan side to highlight the concerns in this regard, it said. The MEA statement said that Indian facilities would handle 15,000 pilgrims a day. The work is expected to be completed by October 31, a week before the celebrations are expected to begin. (IANS)

 

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