Kartarpur Pilgrims Need Passports: MEA on Conflicting Pak Reports
On Wednesday, India had asked Pakistan to clarify whether passport will be required to visit Kartarpur Sahib.
Ahead of the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor on Saturday, 9 November, Ministry of External Affairs’ (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar clarified on Thursday that Indian pilgrims visiting the historic site across the border will require passports, as per the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Pakistan.
This came after conflicting reports from Pakistan on the passport requirement clause. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had stated earlier that only a valid ID card will be needed, not a passport, but Major General Ghafoor contradicted his statement and said a passport will be required.
“Reports coming in from Pakistan are conflicting, sometimes they say passport is needed, other times they say it isn't. We think there are differences between their Foreign Office and other agencies. We have an MoU, it hasn't been changed... a passport is needed,” Kumar said.
“We are aware that there is bilateral document which has been signed between India and Pakistan which clearly specifies the document to be carried by the pilgrims. Any amendment to existing MoU cannot be done unilaterally, it requires consent of both parties,” he added.
‘Assuming All Names for Inaugural Jatha Confirmed’
Kumar also said that Pakistan is yet to confirm the list of Indian dignitaries who will attend the Kartarpur opening ceremony on the Pakistani side.
“We are presuming that all names we have shared with Pakistani side for inaugural jatha have been cleared,” he said.
The MEA spokesperson also asked Pakistan to ensure adequate security to Indian dignitaries attending the event.
The list reportedly includes ex-PM Manmohan Singh, Union Ministers Hardeep Puri, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, Gurdaspur MP Sunny Deol, Punjab's Ministers of Parliament, MLAs and others.
Kumar, however, refrained from revealing details about the inaugural event as “it is a matter of faith.”
What Are the Conflicting Reports?
The Pakistan Foreign Office, on Thursday, said Prime Minister Imran Khan has waived the condition of passport for one year for Indian Sikhs visiting the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib using the Kartarpur corridor, contradicting an earlier statement by the Army spokesman who said pilgrims will need a passport.
On Wednesday, after India had asked Pakistan to clarify whether a passport will be required to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara, Pakistan’s Major General Asif Ghafoor said that Indian Sikh pilgrims would require a passport to use the Kartarpur corridor.
“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,” said Ghafoor, as per PTI.
Earlier, on 1 November, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, while announcing the completion of the corridor on Twitter, had said that he had waived two requirements relating to passport and registering 10 days in advance for Sikhs coming for a pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India.
He said that Sikh pilgrims from India would only need a valid ID and not a passport to travel to Kartarpur.
‘Can’t Speak on Every Individual Visiting the Event’
On being asked whether Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu will attend the inaugural event, Kumar said, “The inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor is a historic event. It is not important to highlight any one individual. We can’t talk about every individual who's going and who's not.”
This comes ahead of Sidhu’s letter to External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, requesting for permission to attend the inauguration.
Sidhu’s letter, as reported by ANI, read: “Despite repeated reminders, you haven't responded to whether or not the government has granted me permission to go to Pakistan for the inauguration.”
The Kartarpur Corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, just four kilometres from the International Border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.