In a relief for Indian Sikhs, the Pakistan Foreign Office Thursday said Prime Minister Imran Khan has waived the condition of passport for one year for pilgrims visiting the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib while using the Kartarpur corridor. During his weekly media briefing in Islamabad, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said the condition of passports for Indian Sikhs was waived for one year in the wake of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
The Foreign Office’ latest statement is in contradiction to the Pakistan Army’s statement earlier today, in which they said the pilgrims would need to produce a passport for identity purposes.
Reacting to the statement by Pakistan Army, MEA Raveesh Kumar had earlier said, “Reports coming in from Pak are conflicting, some times they say passport is needed and other times that it isn’t. We think there are differences between their Foreign Office and other agencies.”
Subsequently, Faisal censuring India for its statement, wrote on Twitter: “As a special gesture, Pakistan announced concessions on the auspicious occasion of 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak to facilitate pilgrims. This has been REFUSED by India in balatant disregard of Sikh sentiments. If India does not wish to avail these facilitative measures for pilgrims, it is India’s choice. India is creating confusion to confuse.”
As a special gesture, #Pakistan announced concessions on the auspicious occasion of 550th Birth Anniversary of #BabaGuruNanak to facilitate pilgrims. This has been REFUSED by #India in balatant disregard of Sikh sentiments.#Indiaconfused#PakistanKartarpurSpirit
— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@ForeignOfficePk) November 7, 2019
Prime Minister Khan had waived the requirement to convey pilgrim information to the Pakistani government 10 days prior to entry, and he had also waived USD 20 as service fee for pilgrims on November 1, Faisal said during the briefing, PTI reported. “We have formally conveyed this to India,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Army spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor comments in Pakistani media come a day after India asked Islamabad to clarify its stand whether passport will be required by Sikh pilgrims visiting the Gurdwara in Kartarpur.
“As we have a security link, the entry would be a legal one under a permit on a passport-based identity. There will be no compromise on security or sovereignty,” Ghafoor told Hum News.
The corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, just 4 kilometres from the International Border, located in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
During the presser, the Pakistan FO also said that over 10,000 Sikhs from India and other parts of the world will attend the inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor by Prime Minister Khan on Saturday.
He said that under the agreement about 5,000 pilgrims can come from India per day. “Our missions in other countries have also issued the same number of visas,” he said.
Meanwhile, political Punjab MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu was granted political clearance today after he repeatedly sought permission from the government to travel to Kartarpur after receiving an invitation from Prime Minister Khan.
-with PTI inputs