Passport must for Indian pilgrims in Kartarpur

Pakistan’s Army spokesman Major Gen Asif Ghafoor in a major U-turn made the announcement days before the inauguration of the Corridor.

Islamabad: Just days before the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor, Pakistan’s Army spokesman Major Gen Asif Ghafoor in a major U-turn announced that Indian Sikh pilgrims would require a passport.

“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,” Gen Ghafoor said while talking on a private TV channel. This comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 1 announced that his government had waived off two requirements for Indian pilgrims visiting Kartarpur – they won’t need a passport just a valid ID and no advance booking was required.

“For Sikhs coming for a pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India, I have waived 2 requirements: i) they won’t need a passport – just a valid ID; ii) they no longer have to register 10 days in advance. Also, no fee will be charged on the day of inauguration & on Guruji’s 550th birthday,” Khan had said in a tweet.

Pakistan did not agree to India’s demand to make the Kartapur Gurdwara’s visit, charge-free. Following the low-key ceremony to sign the agreement, New Delhi had expressed disappointment at Pakistan’s refusal to waive USD 20 service charge on Indians visiting Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara and urged Islamabad to reconsider its decision given the “religious and spiritual sentiments” of the pilgrims.

According to the home ministry, the agreement, which lays a formal framework for operationalising the corridor, stated that Indian pilgrims of all faiths and persons of Indian origin can use the corridor.

NO confirmation on list

New Delhi: India presume that the list of the inaugural jatha visiting Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib on November 9 stands confirmed by Pakistan, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Monday, adding that it has accordingly advised the pilgrims to prepare for the journey. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar noted that Pakistan was supposed to confirm the final list of inaugural jatha four days prior to the visit.

Sidhu given political clearance to attend Kartarpur ceremony

Islamabad: The External Affairs Ministry on Thursday accorded political clearance to Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend the inauguration ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor on the Pakistani side soon after he sent a fresh letter seeking permission to travel to the neighbouring country.

Sidhu had sought political clearance from the government to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor on Saturday following an invite by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Political clearance has been granted to Sidhu to travel through the Kartarpur Sahib corridor on November 9, official sources said.

Pakistan Foreign Office said that the cricketer-turned politician has been issued a visa to attend the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration ceremony.

The corridor is scheduled to be inaugurated on Saturday on both Indian and Pakistani sides. It will link Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal district to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur in Punjab.

Yet to hear on security for jatha, says MEA

New Delhi: India is yet to hear from Pakistan on its request for adequate security and medical arrangements for the inaugural jatha visiting Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib on November 9, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We have been sensitising them (Pakistan). Today again we have requested them (in view of the fact that) these are prominent dignitaries and it is very natural for an advanced team to visit a country before a high dignitary visit takes place.”