Pakistan told India on Friday that it will charge $20 as service fees from visitors to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur tomorrow. This was Islamabad’s second flip-flop in three days. Pakistan army on Wednesday reversed its government’s decision to allow the Indian pilgrims to visit the holy shrine in Pakistan without a passport.
Friday’s decision reverses Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s second ‘concession’—to not charge service fee from the visitors arriving on November 9– for the corrdior’s opening, and on November 12– for Guru Nanak Dev ji’s 550th birth anniversary .Indian foreign ministry had not reacted to the latest developments yet. The first group of Indian visitors including former PM Manmohan Singh will leave tomorrow for the corridor’s inauguration.
Indian government had slammed Pakistan over its flip-flop on the passport issue and said the pilgrims needed to carry passport according to the official agreement signed with Pakistan. Pakistan Army spokesman Major Gen Asif Ghafoor had earlier said that passports were required for the Sikh pilgrims to cross the border and reach Gurdwara in Pakistan’s Kartarpur. Ghafoor’ announcement contradicted Imran Khan’s concession.
Pak PM had made both the concessions– on the passport and the service fees front– in an announcement on November 1. In addition, Khan had also promised that the visiting Sikhs will no longer need to register ten days in advance.
The Kartarpur Corridor between the two neighbours provides a visa-free travel to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan for Indian Sikhs. Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev ji was born in Sri Nankana Sahib in Pakistan and spent his last days at Kartarpur, also in Pakistan.
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib’s inauguration on Saturday will mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
5,000 pilgrims can visit the shrine daily through the corridor, which will be operational all seven days a week, throughout the year.