India to sign Kartarpur Corridor agreement on Oct 23


India on Monday conveyed its willingness to sign the Kartarpur Corridor agreement on October 23 – three weeks ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Sahib.

In a statement on Monday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said New Delhi took initiatives to “put in place the state of art infrastructure” and open the corridor for Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.

“In view of the long pending demand of the pilgrims to have visa free access to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib … [the Indian] Government has today conveyed that we would be ready to sign the Agreement on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on 23 October 2019,” read the statement.

New Delhi has, however, maintained its reservations over the $20 per pilgrim fee proposed by Pakistan. “[The Indian] Government has consistently urged Pakistan that in deference to the wishes of the pilgrims, it should not levy such a fee,” read the MEA statement.

India urged Pakistan to reconsider “its insistence to levy service fee on pilgrims” and said it would be “ready to amend the agreement accordingly at any time.”

Pakistan handed the final draft of the proposed bilateral agreement to India on October 11. Islamabad has also accepted New Delhi’s demand to allow devotees of other faiths – Hindus, Christians, Zoroastrians etc – to visit Baba Guru Nanak Devji’s final resting place.

The agreement, according to sources, will be signed either at Zero Point of Lahore’s Wagah border or the Kartarpur border.

Under the agreement, at least 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the holy site every day. India will share the list of pilgrims 10 days in advance and Pakistan will verify and finalise it four days before the visit.