Kartarpur Gurudwara: Pakistan agrees to allow year-long visa-free access
July 14, 2019 04:30 PM NPT
NEW DELHI, July 14: Pakistan on Sunday agreed to allow year-long visa-free access to Indian pilgrims to the holy Gurudwara of Kartarpur. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement that discussions in this regard were conducted at the second formal meeting between the two sides that made progress on the modalities of the pilgrimage and took up the presence of Khalistan supporters in Pakistani territory.
“It was agreed to allow visa-free travel for the Indian passport holders and OCI cardholders seven days a week. Throughout the year, 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara per day. The pilgrims will be allowed to travel as individuals or in groups and also on foot,” stated a press release from the MEA emphasizing that India had urged that the holy shrine should be open to Indian citizens of all faiths.
India also urged Pakistan to prevent Khalistan supporters from misusing this historic initiative. “Concerns regarding individuals or organizations based in Pakistan who may try to disrupt the pilgrimage and misuse the opportunity to play with the sentiments of the pilgrims was shared. A dossier was handed over the Pakistan side to highlight concerns in this regard,” stated the MEA press note without explicitly naming the Khalistan supporters.
The discussion highlighted the preparatory work underway on both sides of the border for the 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. India claimed that significant progress had been made in building the necessary infrastructure to handle the pilgrims from India and abroad. The statement claimed that Indian facilities would handle 15,000 pilgrims a day. The work is expected to be completed by October 31 this year, a week before the celebrations are expected to begin.
India also urged Pakistan to allow “Nagar Kirtan” from Delhi to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan in July and in October-November 2019 as part of the celebrations to mark the birth anniversary of the first Sikh Guru.