Only a day before the corridor to Kartarpur Sahib across the border opens to the pilgrims, Pakistan’s government on Friday conveyed to India that it will charge $20 facilitation fee from each pilgrim using the Kartarpur Corridor to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib on Saturday.
Last week, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that no fee would be charged from the pilgrims on the opening day of the corridor and on Sikhism founder Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary on November 12.
The move comes a day after Pakistan’s Army mandated passport for Indian pilgrims visiting the Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur. On Thursday, Pakistani media quoted Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor as saying that passports will be needed for Indian pilgrims, and there will be “no compromise on security or sovereignty”.
With the corridor opening Saturday, the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar accused Pakistan of creating “confusion” at the “last moment”.
Pak doublespeak angers Delhi
CONFLICTING STATEMENTS from Pakistan on passports for Sikh pilgrims from India expose the faultlines between its government and Army. While Delhi views the Kartarpur project as a pilgrimage corridor, it has been suspicious of Islamabad’s intent and feels that the mask has slipped across the border with the Pakistan Army contradicting Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer — and photos and videos in Pakistan’s publicity material showing pro-Khalistan elements.
The corridor, connecting the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in the Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, will be thrown open to the pilgrims on Saturday with India and Pakistan set to hold separate ceremonies to mark the occasion.
The agreement will allow 5,000 Indian pilgrims daily to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib where Guru Nanak spent last 18 years of his life.
Notwithstanding a chill in bilateral ties over Kashmir, India and Pakistan after tough negotiations, signed an agreement last month, paving the way for the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9, ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev.