India pilgrims get visa-free entry to Pakistan
Pakistan and India signed today an agreement to set the Kartarpur Corridor into operation. This is a historic and landmark agreement which has not only turned the long-awaited dream of the Indian Sikh community to visit the birth place of their spiritual leader Baba Guru Nanak into a reality, but also occurred when 2 arch rivals are almost on the verge of a war over the Kashmir issue and unabated border skirmishes.
The agreement was signed at Kartarpur Zero Line at 12:00 pm, the Dispatch News Desk (DND) news agency reported.
The Director General South Asia and SAARC at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, Dr. Mohammad Faisal, represented Pakistan to sign the agreement while the Joint Secretary Indian Home Ministry SCL Das signed the document on India’s behalf.
Talking to the media
Talking to media on the occasion, Dr. Faisal said that as per the promise made by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the visiting Indian Yatrees (pilgrims) of all faiths would be provided visa-free entry to Pakistan. He said that Yatrees will be permitted to visit the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib from morning until evening.
Dr. Faisal said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on November 9. After that, 5,000 Sikh Yatrees could visit the Gurdwara Sahib per day at a fee of US$20 per head.
The two countries held 3 rounds of negotiations to reach a consensus over the Corridor just before the beginning of celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.
Setting differences aside
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for both Pakistan and India to set aside their differences over their bilateral longstanding issues and to develop an understanding for a religious and humanitarian cause.
Undoubtedly, both of the nuclear-armed countries have been passing through one of their toughest eras in terms of reaching a war-like situation. It all began in February 2019 when a convoy of Indian security personnel was attacked in the Pulwama district of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJ&K). India accused Pakistan of being behind the attack, followed by a series of border skirmishes and even air forces of both the countries also engaging themselves in a dog fight on February 27.
Things went more sour when New Delhi removed the autonomous status of IOJ&K on August 5 and imposed an indefinite curfew in the entire valley leading towards a human crises.
Though Pak-India bilateral diplomatic and trade ties still remain suspended, as well as exchange of fire at the defacto border – Line of Control (LoC) – and terror accusations also continue, at the same time, signing of the Kartarpur agreement is of immense significance.
Let the Corridor open
The construction work on the 4-kilometer long Kartarpur Corridor began on November 28, 2018 when Prime Minister Imran Khan along with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and dignitaries from India performed its groundbreaking.
The signed agreement on the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor would shortly be made public as talking to newsmen in Islamabad on Wednesday, Dr. Faisal said that they would share its clause-by-clause details with the media.