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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Pakistan hands India final draft agreement on Kartarpur corridor, retains $20 per pilgrim

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the Indian side of the corridor on November 8, Union minister Harsimrat Badal tweeted on Saturday.

india Updated: Oct 14, 2019 22:49 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pakistan accepted India’s request that the corridor shouldn’t be limited only to Sikh pilgrims and the draft agreement states it will be open to people of other faiths, the people said.
Pakistan accepted India’s request that the corridor shouldn’t be limited only to Sikh pilgrims and the draft agreement states it will be open to people of other faiths, the people said.( Photo: HT File)
         

Pakistan has handed over to India its final draft agreement for the Kartarpur Corridor though differences remain between the two sides on some issues, including a service fee of $20 for Indian pilgrims, people familiar with developments said on Monday.

The draft agreement was handed over to the Indian high commission in Islamabad last Friday, and New Delhi’s response to it couldn’t immediately be ascertained.

The people cited above said Pakistan had retained the service fee of $20 per pilgrim, saying the amount is needed to meet operational costs for the corridor that will link Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Punjab state to Darbar Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan’s Kartarpur. India has called for the fee to be waived.

Pakistan accepted India’s request that the corridor shouldn’t be limited only to Sikh pilgrims and the draft agreement states it will be open to people of other faiths, the people said.

The Pakistani side said India should provide details of the pilgrims 10 days before their planned visit to the gurdwara built at the site where Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, spent his final days. The names of the pilgrims would be cleared four days before the date of visit and transport will be provided at zero point on the border, the people said.

Pakistan will allow 5,000 pilgrims to use the corridor every day and will consider the possibility of allowing more pilgrims on special occasions. India has been demanding that up to 10,000 pilgrims should be allowed through the corridor on special occasions.

It was not immediately clear whether Pakistan had also acceded to India’s request for consular and protocol officers to accompany the pilgrims.

The two sides had initially indicated that the corridor would be opened on November 9 to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. However, it is not clear if the two countries can sign the agreement to operationalise the corridor by this date.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said earlier this month that India remains committed to the project and that Pakistan should show flexibility on several issues, including the fee of $20. Most of the infrastructure on the Indian side had been completed, including a four-lane highway, and Pakistan should reply “as soon as possible” on outstanding issues so that both sides could move forward, he had said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the Indian side of the corridor on November 8, Union minister Harsimrat Badal tweeted on Saturday.