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Pakistan, India to Allow Sikh Pilgrims Visa-Free Access to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur

Pakistan and India agreed late last year to open the Kartarpur corridor, which will lead from the Indian border straight to the temple, with sides fenced off

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FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2018 file photo, Indian Sikh pilgrims visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the shrine of their spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev in Kartarpur, Pakistan. VOA

Pakistan and India have agreed to “expeditiously” work out issues related to a new border crossing that would allow Sikh pilgrims visa-free access to one of their holiest temples in Pakistan.

High-level delegations from the two nuclear-armed rival countries met Sunday on the Pakistani side of the Wagah border checkpoint to discuss what is named the “Kartarpur Corridor.”   The number and safety of pilgrims as well as infrastructure were among the issues on the agenda.

The temple, known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, is one of the holiest sites in Sikhism and it is believed to have been built on the final resting place of Guru Nanak, the founder of the religion, who died in the 16th Century.

The chief of the Pakistani delegation told a post-meeting news conference that both sides have resolved most of the issues and another meeting would be required before a final agreement is reached.

gurudwara darbar sahib, sikh pilgrimages
Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal, center, briefs the media before the meeting with Indian officials at Wagah border, near Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, July 14, 2019.

“We had in-depth and productive discussions on the proposed draft agreement and agreed to expeditiously finalize the modalities for operationalizing the Kartarpur Corridor in time for the 550 the anniversary celebrations,” Mohammad Faisal said.

India and Pakistan are aiming to make the corridor operational by November, ahead of the commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

India’s Sikh minority community has long sought easier access to the temple in Kartarpur. Currently, pilgrims must must first secure visas, travel to the eastern city of Lahore or other major Pakistani destinations before driving to Kartarpur. Political tensions between India and Pakistan often make it difficult for citizens of both the countries to secure timely visas.

sikh pilgrimages, gurudwara darbar sahib
Indian officials from Ministry for External Affairs arrive after crossing the border for a meeting with Pakistani officials at Wagah border, near Lahore, Pakistan, July 14, 2019. VOA

Pakistan and India agreed late last year to open the Kartarpur corridor, which will lead from the Indian border straight to the temple, with sides fenced off.

The progress toward opening the new border crossing later this year marks a rare instance of cooperation between the two countries, which have fought three wars against each other and came close to a fourth one in February this year.

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Most of the conflicts stemmed from the divided Kashmir region, claimed by both sides in its entirety, and it continues to be the primary source of regional tensions. (VOA)

Next Story

India takes Humanity to another Level and Releases 11 Pakistani Prisoners

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rehabilitation of 11 Pakistani prisoners
The rehabilitation of 11 Pakistani prisoners to Pakistan indicates India’s sky scrapping opinions about humanitarianism. VOA
  • The release gain significance as it occurred just a day after a meeting of Indian PM Modi and Nawaz Sharif in Astana at SCO summit
  • This is the first India’s kind gesture towards Pakistan after the Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case
  • Each year, many Indian and Pakistani citizens are captured along the border

New Delhi, June 12, 2017: Amidst the high India-Pakistan tensions, India has released 11 Pakistani prisoners on June 12, who had served out their sentences and were sent to Pakistan through the Attari- Wagah border.

Despite the fact that Pakistan has been continuously violating ceasefire along the LoC, this rehabilitation of Pakistani prisoners to Pakistan indicates India’s sky scrapping opinions about humanitarianism.

India and Pakistan ties have always been like that of two contraries. In January, India suffered a devastating attack in Pathankot on its air force base. It blamed the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a Pakistan-based militant group led by Maulana Masood Azhar for it. All the chaos was put on a halt in August 2015.

ALSO READ: Reform of Colonial-Era Laws Aims to Bring Pakistan’s ‘Black Hole’ into the Light

Corresponding to Pakistan’s allegation against former Indian Naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav of being involved in seditious and spying activities, India requested the ICJ for a stay on the execution. However, the tensions between both the countries augmented when the ICJ gave its verdict in India’s favour, mentioned ANI report.

Previously on March 1, India had freed 39 Pakistani prisoners as a gesture of retaliation as Pakistan too released India’s 218 prisoners.According to the list which was handed over to the Indian government on 1 January 2015, there were 476 fishermen and 50 civil servants who were imprisoned by the Pakistan custody.

This list of the people captured of one nation by the other was exchanged through diplomatic channels in January 2015. The exchange of the list took place in Islamabad and New Delhi after mutual consent on an ‘Agreement on Consular Access between India and Pakistan’ in 2008.

This agreement includes regular meeting of both the parties in which they reflect on the matters of the repatriation of all prisoners and providing them with consular access.
Apart from this, Indian Government continuously has been monitoring the status of all captured Indians in Pakistani jails.

Also, a committee, ‘India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners’ has been constituted comprising of the retired and experienced judges belonging to the higher strata of the judiciary structure of both countries. They will ensure the proper carrying out of all the activities such as release of prisoners and humane treatment, and thus, maintaining the very humanitarian essence in the conduct.

– prepared by Himanshi Goyal of Newsgram. Twitter: @himanshi1104