As proposed by Pakistan, the third meeting to discuss the modalities of the draft Agreement for facilitation of pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib using the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor was held today at Attari, India.
The Indian delegation was led by Mr. S.C.L. Das, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs. The Pakistan delegation was led by Dr. Mohammad Faisal, DG (SA& SAARC) of Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Both sides held detailed discussions on outstanding issues, including issuance of cards to visiting pilgrims.
In line with Prime Minister Khan’s commitment and Pakistan’s unprecedented gesture of opening the Pakistan- India border for the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, Pakistan will permit 5000 Indian pilgrims daily, with the provision for additional numbers on special occasions, subject to capacity. It was stressed that Pakistan’s Kartarpur spirit was aimed at facilitating and promoting Nanak Naamlevas but limiting pilgrims was necessary in the initial phases due to capacity constraints.
As announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan will allow visa free access to pilgrims of all faiths, seven days a week, throughout the year. Pilgrims may travel individually or in groups and by bus or foot, as per their convenience.
It was agreed that an identification card will be issued by Pakistan to the visiting pilgrims. Pilgrims will be charged nominal amount as service charges for the upkeep/ maintenance of the Gurdwara Sahib. A Joint Working Group will be constituted by the Parties for facilitating the smooth implementation of the agreement.
Prime Minister Khan’s very first announcement of visa free access to Pilgrims is testament to Pakistan’s sincerity and commitment to maximally facilitating them. Visa free access to pilgrims precludes the need for consular officers from India. Rhetoric for public consumption is damaging.
The Pakistan side handed over a comprehensive dossier to India, in response to the dossier shared by India in the last meeting.
In view of paucity of time and the impending deadline of the 550th celebrations, Pakistan proposed that the next round of meeting be held at the earliest, preferably next week, to finalize the draft agreement.
Pakistan remains steadfast in its resolve to fulfill Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment to the Nanak Naamlevas in line with Islamic principles advocating respect for all religions.