Kartarpur Corridor pact unlikely tomorrow, govt waits for fresh date

New Delhi: New Delhi is unlikely to sign an agreement on the Kartarpur corridor with Islamabad on the scheduled date, October 23, government sources have said.

This despite the fact that India has said it was ready to sign the agreement amid the dissent over Pakistan’s undettered stand on levying a service fee of USD 20 per pilgrim per visit to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.

India is waiting for Pakistan to get back with a new date.

Pakistan has not given a concrete response yet in this regard.

The corridor that would connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab is set to formally inaugurate on November 9.

The corridor would also facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who would just need to obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.

India has been urging Pakistan to not levy the proposed USD 20 fee on pilgrims visiting the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in the interest of devotees.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said except the matter of service fee, has been reached with Pakistan after several rounds of discussion.

He had said Kartarpur Sahib Corridor was an important people-to-people initiative taken by India to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji.

“Pakistan insists on levying a fee of USD 20 (approx. Rs. 1420) on all pilgrims. We have urged Pakistan not to do so in the interests of devotees and also because this is a P2P initiative. We hope that the agreement can be concluded and signed in time for the great event,” he had added.

The service charge, on which Pakistan refuses to compromise is expected to rake up Rs 21 crore each month for the country.

The fee was opposed by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh as well as Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal. They both claimed that it would be unfair for the less fortunate Sikh devotees in India.

“Let these [poor pilgrims] people not be deprived of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of ‘khulle darshan’ of the historic Gurdwara,” Singh had tweeted.

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