Pak waives passport for Sikh pilgrims using Kartarpur corridor

ISLAMABAD: 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 the pilgrims will need a passport.
During his weekly media briefing here, Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Faisal said the condition of passports for Indian Sikhs was waived for one year in the wake of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
Prime Minister Khan also waived the requirement to convey pilgrim information to the Pakistani government 10 days prior to entry, and he also waived USD 20 service fee per pilgrim on November 9 and 12, Faisal said. “We have formally conveyed this to India,” he added.
Earlier, Pakistan Army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said that Indian pilgrims visiting the Kartarpur Sahib will need a passport to use the Kartarpur corridor, creating a confusion over the status of passports.
“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,” he was quoted as saying in the local media.
The corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, just 4 kilometres from the International Border, located in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
The year 2019 marks the 550th birth anniversary year of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, whose birthplace Sri Nankana Sahib is in Pakistan.
Sidhu gets permission
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, a report from New Delhi said.
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.
In Islamabad, the Pakistan Foreign Office said that the cricketer-turned politician has been issued a visa to attend the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration ceremony.
Earlier in the day, Sidhu wrote to the External Affairs Ministry, asking whether it had any inhibition on his attending the opening ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan. (PTI)

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