The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday confirmed that Indians with a valid passport will be allowed to visit the Kartarpur Gurdwara Sahib in Punjab province of Pakistan.
Addressing a press conference MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar reiterated that India will follow the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Pakistan and go by the requirements provided in it. As per the MoU, Indians will need to carry a valid passport, said Kumar, adding that MoUs can't be changed unilaterally and it requires the consent of both the parties.
"You must have seen conflicting reports from Pakistan and even today that sense of confusion continues. Sometimes they say passport is needed and at other times they say that it isn't. We think there are differences between their Foreign Office and other agencies. There is a bilateral document signed between India and Pakistan which specifies the documents required. We have an MoU, it hasn't been changed and as per it passport is needed. We are going by the requirements in the MoU. As of today, we are aware that there is an agreement signed between India and Pakistan. So for the time being, those undertaking journey on November 9 and later will have to go by the agreement till the MoU is revised."
Replying to a question by Zee News, the MEA spokesperson said, "India has never said that we will not hold talks with Pakistan. We are only saying that it should take strong action against terrorists active on their land and eliminate them and then only we will proceed with talks. Kartarpur Corridor will have no impact on the bilateral discussion. There is no possibility of talks with Pakistan at present."
"The list of those who are going in the first 'jatha' was given by Pakistan but they are yet to confirm the list. They had to confirm the list four days before the event, which did not. We are now taking it as a confirmation from our side and have asked everyone to prepare for their journey," added Kumar.
Speaking on Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, Kumar said, "The inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor is a historic event. It is not important to highlight any one individual."
"Our map accurately depicts the sovereign territory of India. The new map has in no manner revised our boundary with Nepal. The boundary delineation exercise with Nepal is ongoing under the existing mechanism. We reiterate our commitment to finding a solution through dialogue in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations. At the same time, both countries should guard against vested interests trying to create differences between our two countries," Kumar further added.
Earlier, the Centre had said that Indians with a valid passport will be allowed to visit the Kartarpur. The development comes as Pakistan has been trying to create confusion in connection with the visit to Kartapur Sahib ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev.
Pakistan has been changing its stand on who all can visit Kartarpur Sahib by stating that Indian pilgrims will not require passports to visit the shrine and only a valid identity proof will do and then coming out with another statement that only those with valid passports can do so.
On one hand, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has tweeted that no passport is required for those visiting Kartarpur Sahib, but Major General Asif Ghafoor, the Pakistani Army spokesperson and Director-General of its Inter-Services Public Relations, stated that pilgrims would require a passport.