A day ahead of the inauguration of the historic religious corridor, Pakistan told India on Friday that it will charge each Indian pilgrim visiting the Kartarpur Gurudwara a $20 fee.
The development came a day after the Pakistan army overruled Prime Minister Khan’s decision to allow pilgrims to visit the Sikh shrine located in Narowal district of Pakistan passport-free.
On Wednesday, Pakistan military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said Islamabad would not show any leniency towards those using the agreed corridor.
The Pakistan prime minister had promised to waive visa fees on the day of the inauguration which coincides with the commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion.
As per the agreement signed between the two countries on 24 October, Indians were required to carry valid passports and pay $20 for each visit.
During his weekly media briefing on Thursday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal, had stated that as a special gesture on the auspicious occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev, Pakistan has waived; (a) pilgrims from carrying passport for the 550th celebrations; (b) the requirement to convey pilgrim information to the government of Pakistan 10 days prior to the entry through Kartarpur Sahib Corridor; and (c) US $20 service charges per pilgrim, per visit, on 9th and 12th November 2019, adding that the decision has been conveyed formally to the Indian government..
Earlier on Friday, Indian foreign ministry sources said If Pakistan is genuinely sincere about assisting pilgrims, “they should do away with the 20 dollar fee”, which is acting as a deterrent for many pilgrims, especially from lower economic strata.
A large number of the Indian contingent (Jatha) will be visiting Kartarpur- the place where Guru Nanak Dev is believed to have spent the last 18 years of his life. The Kartarpur Corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, located at Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province. This year is the 550th birth anniversary year of Guru Nanak Dev, whose birthplace is Sri Nankana Sahib in Pakistan. The corridor has been established to commemorate his birth anniversary.