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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Pakistan & India Sign The Kartarpur Agreement At Zero Line, Narowal

After three rounds of negotiations, India and Pakistan have signed the agreement finalizing the Kartarpur Corridor.

Pakistan and India, on Thursday, signed the agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor, paving the path for the inauguration in November, days ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism.

Dr. Mohammad Faisal, the official spokesperson of the Foreign Office and Director General of South Asia and SAARC, signed the agreement alongside Joint Secretary of the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, S. C. L Das, at Zero Line, Pakistan-Indian border, Narowal.

Kartarpur Corridor Agreement

After the signing ceremony concluded, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr. Faisal said that in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the agreement has been signed by the two countries. The formal inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor will be held on November 9.

Read more: Pakistan’s Peace Efforts: Manmohan Singh to attend Inauguration Ceremony at Kartarpur

Briefing the media about the multiple rounds of negotiations between India and Pakistan on the Kartarpur Corridor, Dr. Faisal said, “These were very, very difficult and tough negotiations.”

He said, “As per the agreement, the corridor will remain functional seven days a week, from dawn till dusk.” He said that the Sikh pilgrims will arrive through the corridor in the day, and leave by evening.

Dr. Faisal said that the project will be able to facilitate 5000 Sikh pilgrims a day. He said, “This is the largest Gurdwara in the world. Our initiative reflects how we treat minorities in Pakistan, and our approach towards minorities in line with the teachings of the Holy Prophet (SAW).”

The FO spokesperson said that the first batch of Sikh pilgrims will arrive on November 9. Divulging more details of the Kartarpur agreement, Dr. Faisal said that the pilgrims arriving through the corridor will not require a visa. However, they will have to bring their passports, which will be scanned by the authorities but not stamped.

The $20 service charges proposed by Pakistan for every pilgrim for a single visit became the last apple of discord in the negotiations

Dr. Faisal said that as per the agreement, the Indian authorities will provide Pakistan a list of pilgrims 10 days before they arrive in the country. In response to a question, he said that local pilgrims will be issued a pass to facilitate the visit to their holy site.

The Kartarpur agreement has been finalized after three rounds of talks. The negotiations were stalled due to the deepening trust deficit and growing differences over the provisions proposed by each side. The Pulwama-escalation and India’s objections of the formation of the committee established to manage the affairs of the Kartarpur Corridor, and the anti-Pakistan frenzy stirred up during the Indian general elections further delayed the process.

The $20 service charges proposed by Pakistan for every pilgrim for a single visit became the last apple of discord in the negotiations. However, India grudgingly agreed to concede to it. Pakistan is now working out the dynamics of how the $20 service charges will be implemented.

Once the inauguration ceremony has been held, Pakistan will open the visa-free access between Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur and Sikhs from India’s Punjab can freely visit the shrine of Baba Guru Nanak.

Read more: AS Kartarpur Corridor near completion: BJP tries to take all credit

Addressing the weekly press briefing at the Foreign Office on Thursday, Dr. Mohammad Faisal had said, “We are fully ready to operationalize the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on our side.”

“Yatris will be permitted to visit the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib from morning till evening.  Currently, we are in the process of devising a mechanism to charge US $ 20 per visit, as service charges.”

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the Kartarpur Corridor will be a harbinger of human respect and fraternity.