India, Pakistan Ink Agreement on Kartarpur Corridor
India and Pakistan signed an agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur Corridor on Thursday at the Zero Point.
India and Pakistan signed a landmark agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur Corridor on Thursday, 24 October, reported news agency ANI.
The agreement-signing ceremony took place at the Kartarpur Zero Point at the Pakistan-India border in Narowal, removing a key legal hurdle for the opening of the corridor.
S C L Das, Joint Secretary in the Union Home Ministry signed the pact on India's behalf while Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal singed the agreement from Pakistan's side.
Speaking to the media after the signing of the agreement, Faisal said Prime Minister Imran Khan had fulfilled his promise and completed the corridor in a year.
“It was never simple to reach an agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor. Rather these were very difficult and tough negotiations (with India) keeping in view our hostile relations with it.”Mohammad Faisal, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson
The signing of the agreement was initially supposed to take place on Wednesday, but it was postponed by a day.
The inauguration date has also been pushed back from 8 November to 9 November, according to IANS.
Highlights of The Agreement
- Indian pilgrims of all faiths and persons of Indian origin can use the corridor.
- While the travel will be visa-free, pilgrims are expected to carry a valid passport.
- The Corridor is open from dawn to dusk, and pilgrims travelling in the morning will have to return on the same day.
- India will send the list of pilgrims to Pakistan 10 days ahead of the travel date & confirmation will be sent to pilgrims four days prior.
- The Pakistan side has assured India it will make sufficient provisions for ‘Langar’ and distribution of ‘Prasad’.
India Urges Pak to Reconsider USD 20 Service Fee
Although the Indian government has signed the agreement, it has asked Islamabad to reconsider its demand of charging USD 20 service fee per pilgrim.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal told news agency PTI that a mechanism has been arranged under which 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib on a daily basis.
By paying a service fee of USD 20, the pilgrims can come in the morning and leave by evening after visiting the holy site. The Indian government has strongly opposed to such a high fee.
However, in the interest of the pilgrims and timely operationalisation of the Corridor before the 550th Prakash Purb, India has signed the agreement.
However, India continues to urge Pakistan to reconsider its insistence on levying the fee. India has said it is ready to amend the agreement accordingly.
The Kartarpur Corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Punjab with the gurudwara at Kartarpur, just about four kilometres from the international border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province.
Online Registration Begins For Pilgrims
The online registration has begun for the pilgrims on the portal prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in, an official statement said.
The pilgrims will have to register themselves on this portal and exercise their choice to travel on any day.
They will be informed by SMS and email of the confirmation of registration 3 to 4 days in advance of the date of travel. An Electronic Travel Authorisation will also be generated.
The pilgrims need to carry Electronic Travel Authorisation, along with their passport, when they arrive at the Passenger Terminal Building, the statement said.
Pak to Earn USD 365,00,000 Per Annum
Pakistan is expected to earn up to USD 365,00,000 from pilgrims visiting the holy Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, officials said on Thursday.
The service fee from the pilgrims – PKR 555 crore (Rs 259 crore per annum) – will be another source of foreign currency generation for Pakistan, which is already reeling under severe financial crisis, a government official said.
Since 5,000 pilgrims are allowed to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan, which will be charging USD 20 service fee per pilgrim, Pakistan will earn USD 1,00,000 (approximately Rs 71 lakh) every day.
With the tour operational on all 365 days of the year, Pakistan will earn PKR 555 crore (Rs 259 crore), the official said.
Though India signed the pact with Pakistan for ensuring smooth travel of pilgrims through the Kartarpur Corridor, it has asked Islamabad to review the decision to charge the fee in future.
(With inputs from ANI & PTI.)
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