[Updated: 1st November 2019] – On Thursday, Pakistan and India inked into an agreement of smooth operations of Kartarpur Corridor. This contract will pave way for Indian pilgrims [Sikh community] to visit the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan. Moreover, the treaty between the two countries is seen as a positive gesture and it may open avenues for further developments between the two arch-rivals.
Gurdwara Kartarpur is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites of Sikh community in the Narowal district of Punjab. The length of the corridor is close to 6 KM [3.7 Miles] long. Subsequently, the corridor will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur [Pakistan] with Dera Baba Nanak Sahib [holy site for Sikhs in India]. It is pertinent to mention that Gurdwara is the last resting place of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
At the time of agreement, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry official Dr Mohammad Faisal and Subhas Das of India’s Home Affairs Ministry were present.
One of the statements from the agreement read:
“The signing of the agreement, despite the challenging environment is unprecedented and reflective of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment towards facilitating Nanak Naamlevas to visit their most reverential place of worship in line with Pakistan’s Kartarpur initiative and groundbreaking ceremony last year”
Focal points of the Kartarpur Corridor Pact
The salient features of the Kartarpur Corridor pact are as under:
- No visa is required for the travel
- Previously, valid passport was required. However, only valid ID is required now [updated]
- Each pilgrim will be charged $20 as a service fee except on 2 days: on day of inauguration and on Guruji’s 550th birthday [updated]
- An Indian national [regardless of his faith] can use the corridor
- In case of an immigrant and dual-nationality, a pilgrim must carry Overseas Citizenship of India [OCI] card along with the passport of their country
- Corridor will remain open from dawn to dusk
- Any pilgrim who travels in the morning will also have to return back on the same day
- A corridor will remain open throughout the year, apart from notified days [to be announced]
- A pilgrim can either travel individually or with a group
- In case a pilgrim is below 13 years old or over 75 years, s/he will have to travel in a group
- Traveling on foot remains an option for everyone
- Travelling by bus remains an option too
- Pilgrims no longer will have to register 10 days in advance [updated]
- Plenty of provision of ‘Langar’ [community kitchen]
- Distribution of ‘Prasad’ is ensured
- 5,000 pilgrims are expected to visit the shrine daily
- A pilgrim is entitled to stay within the surroundings of the shrine only
- Each pilgrim can carry a maximum of Rs11,000/- and a 7 KG baggage is allowed to each pilgrim
- Smoking, drinking and usage of tobacco is strictly prohibited inside the Passenger Terminal Building (PTB)
- Photography requires permission from the authorities
For Sikhs coming for pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India, I have waived off 2 requirements: i) they wont need a passport – just a valid ID; ii) they no longer have to register 10 days in advance. Also, no fee will be charged on day of inauguration & on Guruji's 550th birthday
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 1, 2019
On 9th November, Prime Minister Imran Khan will formally inaugurate the corridor, well before the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.