Kartarpur Sahib: Pakistan agrees to Visa-free, year-long travel for Indians

Pakistan has agreed in principle to allow year-long visa-free access for Indian pilgrims to holy Gurdwara of Kartarpur Sahib. The agreement was reached at 2nd bilateral formal meeting held at Wagah for finalising the modalities for Kartarpur Sahib corridor, a gateway for pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.

Indian delegation at 2nd bilateral formal meet comprised representatives from Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Union Ministry of External Affairs, Union Ministry of Defence, Government of Punjab and National Highway Authorities of India (NHAI).

Key Highlights

Pakistan has agreed to allow year-long Visa-free travel to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara for pilgrims holding Indian passport and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card holders for 7 days a week.

Throughout the year, 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara per day. India insisted that 10,000 more could be allowed to visit Gurudwara on special occasions and festivals.

Pilgrims will be allowed to travel individually or in groups and can also travel on foot.

Permit system: Although India proposed that holy shrine be open to Indian citizens of all faiths but Pakistan government reiterated its stand that there will be provision for a permit system for pilgrims travelling via religious corridor.

Plea for ‘Nagar Kirtan’: India urged Pakistan to allow ‘Nagar Kirtan’ from Delhi to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan in July and during October-November 2019 as part of celebrations to mark 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism.

About Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara

It is located at Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Narowal district and the holy shrine is visible from Indian side.

It stands on bank of River Ravi, about 120 km northeast of Lahore.

Religious Importance: It is the final resting place of First Sikh Guru Baba Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism. It was here that the Baba Guru Nanak Dev assembled a Sikh community and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539.

About Kartarpur Sahib Corridor

It links India’s Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district with Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

This corridor is set to be completed by 31 October 2019. Once functional it could strengthen bilateral ties between two countries.

Preparatory work: India claimed that significant progress had been made in building infrastructure needed to handle pilgrims from India and that infrastructure on Indian side would be able to handle 15000 pilgrims/day. The work is expected to be completed by 31 October 2019, a week before celebrations of birth anniversary of Guru Nanak are expected to begin.

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