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Pakistan to spell out criteria for Indian pilgrims using Kartarpur corridor

The proposal of the Pakistan govt will highlight points that include--permits, passports, pilgrim entry among others.

Pakistan to spell out criteria for Indian pilgrims using Kartarpur corridor

NEW DELHI: As per the initial draft on Kartarpur agreement which Pakistan will be purposing to India, the neighbouring country will be issuing a permit which to 500 people per day. Though it will be a visa-free travel, the pilgrims will have to carry Indian passport and will need a security clearance from India.

As per the draft guidelines, the Indian government will also have to share with the details of the pilgrims and their security clearance certificate with Pakistan three days prior to their entry through the Kartarpur corridor. 

It is also proposed that the pilgrims must constitute a group of 15 people and the corridor will be open from 8 am to 5 pm. Both sides will be creating a database of pilgrims having names, travel history. The Indian side, however, is yet to receive the approximately 59-page draft. 

The draft also says that "Pakistan reserves the right to refuse entry, reduce the period of stay or terminate the stay in its territory of any pilgrim despite grant of permit" if it considers "the pilgrim is found undesirable for security or other purpose".

In case of a dispute, the draft claims that the issue will be "amicably settled between parties through the diplomatic channel". Any side can terminate the agreement any time by giving one month notice. The agreement also does not affect the existing commitments on border security, the draft states. 

On November 22, Indian Cabinet passed a resolution to celebrate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji in 2019 and approved the building of Kartarpur Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur District till the border. On the same day, Delhi informed Islamabad through Pakistan's high commission in Delhi its decision to build Kartarpur Corridor and urged Pakistan to develop a corridor in their territory from the International Border to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.

Pakistan opened the Kartarpur border in November to facilitate visa-free pilgrimage by Indian Sikhs to Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Narowal district, where Sikhism`s founder Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 18 years of his life. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the groundbreaking ceremony on November 28 to develop the Kartarpur corridor to link Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur in India with Kartarpur gurdwara in the presence of Indian Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Hardeep Puri and Congress party leader Navjot Singh Sidhu.

On November 26, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur Sahib corridor in Gurdaspur.

Pakistan assured that it will keep improving the Kartarpur corridor and provide maximum facilities to the pilgrims when they visit in November 2019 to celebrate Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary.

Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister of State (IC) for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri attended the groundbreaking ceremony on the Pakistan side as representatives of the Government of India.

India has been doubtful on Pakistan's intentions with comments like googly remarks exposing Islamabad. Reacting to the remarks, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said a few days ago, "Some people went from here went there and certain comments were made from that side, so I think there is hardly any need to speak further on this issue. I think their intentions on doing this thing was not with clear conscious which we felt from their certain statements."

Transport Ministry is the nodal Ministry for building and development of the corridor while Home Ministry is the nodal Ministry for coordinating with the concerned authorities, including the local Government.

A High-Level Committee under the Chairmanship of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has been constituted to review, monitor and oversee the activities as approved by the Union Cabinet for implementation of the decisions of the Cabinet.

The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur - the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev - with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev.