India, Pakistan sign agreement on visa-free Kartarpur Corridor

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India and Pakistan on Thursday signed a written agreement to open Kartarpur corridor between the 2 countries that will enable Indian pilgrims to go to Darbar sahib Gurdwara in Kartarpur, in Narowal district of Pakistan, a move that’s expected to boost people-to-people contact at a time of tense relations between the neighbors.

The signing of the written agreement caps months of negotiations between the two uneasy neighbours and was ended despite spikes in tensions on two occasions, including the air attack by India on a terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot region in revenge to the attack on a Central Reserve constabulary convoy in Pulwama that killed forty security personnel.

Analysts say that the opening of the passageway might be leveraged to initiate talks between India and Pakistan.

The Kartarpur corridor connects the Darbar Sahib Gurdwara with the Dera baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in India’s Punjab province, facilitating the visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims who simply want a permit to cross over to Pakistan.

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The treaty was signed by S.C.L. Das, joint secretary, internal security, within the Indian home ministry, and Mohammad king, director general, South Asia, within the Asian nation ministry. The treaty was signed at the “zero lines” on the border, indicating that either side wished to stay the sign language low key.

The agreement permits Indians and other people of Indian origin to use the corridor to go to the shrine. The individuals need to carry their passports and an electronic travel authorization they receive if their registration for the journey is deemed successful. individuals of Indian origin holding the passport of another country will have to carry their Overseas citizen of India card.

The corridor is going to be open from dawn to dusk and pilgrims traveling within the morning will have to be compelled to return the same day. The corridor will be operational throughout the year, except on days notified in advance.

Pilgrims will travel as individuals or in groups. they will also travel on foot.

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India can send the list of pilgrims to Pakistan ten days before their travel dates. Confirmation is sent to pilgrims four days before their departure dates. Pakistan has said it’ll make decent provision for community kitchens in the gurdwara and distribution of prasad.

India hopes Pakistan would drop its insistence on levying a $20 charge per pilgrim per visit, according to Das. “This (charge) isn’t in consonance with the religious and spiritual sentiments of Indian pilgrims. India has shared its deep disappointment with Pakistan for its refusal to waive the fee,” Das said. “However, in the interest of the pilgrims and timely operationalization of the Kartarpur sahib corridor before the 550th Prakash Purb (birthday of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak), India has agreed to sign the agreement,” he said.

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Also Read, Saudi Arabia visa fee increases by 6 times, Haj pilgrimage is now costlier.

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