PM announces special waivers for Sikh pilgrims ahead of Kartarpur opening

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Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday announced that Indian Sikh pilgrims arriving from India to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib will no longer need a passport to cross over into Pakistan as long as they “have a valid identity”.

In a tweet posted on Friday morning, the premier also announced that he had directed that the condition for pilgrims to register 10 days before their arrival to the Kartarpur shrine also be waived off.

The prime minister further announced that the pilgrims who arrive on the day of the Kartarpur corridor’s opening and on Baba Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary will not be charged any fee to visit.

Following several rounds of tough negotiations between Pakistan and India, the two countries had finally signed an agreement last month paving the way for the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor on Nov 9 ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev.

From the Indian side, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the corridor in Gurdaspur while his Pakistan counterpart, Imran Khan, will declare it open from the other end.

In Pakistan, the ceremony will feature former Indian premier Manmohan Singh as the chief guest. Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu will also attend the ceremony. Sidhu was invited upon the directives of Prime Minister Imran. He had attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the Corridor earlier this year.

The four-kilometer-long corridor will provide pilgrims a visa-free link between Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur and the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Indian Punjab. Up to 5,000 Indian Sikhs have been allowed access daily, with plans to eventually double the capacity.