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India insists to allow 5,000 pilgrims per day to visit Sikh shrine

 ISLAMABAD (Muslim Times) – Pakistan on Thursday offered arrival to 500 Sikh pilgrims but India insisted on visa-free access from Pakistan for 5,000 pilgrims per day to the historic Sikh shrine in Kartarpur.

According to the inside story of Indo-Pak meeting to finalise the modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor, the Indian delegation insisted for at least 5,000 pilgrims per day to be allowed to visit the holy Sikh shrine in the initial phase.

Pakistan, on the other hand, offered to give access to the historic shrine to 500 pilgrims saying difficulties could be faced for arrangements of pilgrims.

There are differences between the two countries for the means of transport.

Pakistan wants pilgrims to come on buses while India wants Pakistan to allow devotees who want to travel on foot to the shrine across the border.

New Delhi insisted that the corridor should be absolutely visa-free and there should not be any additional encumbrances in the form of any documentation or procedure.

Delhi also wanted access for both Indians and people of Indian origin to the shrine.

This was the first meeting between both countries in connection with the corridor and was held at the Attari-Wagah border on the Indian side in Punjab. The meeting was held in a cordial environment and officials discussed the draft agreement to facilitate the passage of pilgrims to Gurdwara Kartarpur.

Earlier in a historical event on November 28, Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of Kartarpur Corridor which was also attended by Indian ministers Navjot Singh Sidhu, Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri on the invitation of the Pakistan government.

The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other government officials.

On March 7, PM Imran Khan had directed the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) to ensure timely completion of the project on Pakistani side of the border.

The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur – the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev – with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib.

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