Kartarpur corridor will be opened on Nov 9: Pak official
Pakistan on Monday announced that the Kartarpur corridor will be opened for Indian Sikh pilgrims on November 9.
The announcement was made during the maiden visit of local and foreign journalists to the proposed Kartarpur corridor in Narowal, some 125 km from Lahore, amid ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
Project Director Atif Majid told the visiting journalists that so far 86% of the work on the corridor has been completed and it will be opened on November 9.
Majid said the development work will be completed by next month.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev. The corridor will be opened in November ahead of Guru Nank Dev’s 550th birth anniversary.
Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district up to the border will be constructed by India.
Both countries have agreed that Pakistan would allow 5,000 Sikh visitors per day into the country through the corridor, which will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947.
Majid said some 76 immigration counters have been set up to cater to 5,000 Sikh pilgrims from India every day. He said that initially 5,000 Sikhs from India will come daily and later the number will rise to 10,000.
The announcement has come on a day that Punjab minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa along with a team of officials from the Union Home Ministry and Land Port Authority of India took stock of the ongoing work at Dera Baba Nanak on the Indian side.
Punjab jails minister Randhawa held a meeting with officials of LPAI, NHAI and district administration after inspecting the work.
Union Home Ministry’s Additional Secretary Govind Mohan was also present during the meeting, the minister said.
The four-lane highway connecting the Zero Point of the Kartarpur Corridor up to National Highway-354 is being built by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
Tension between India and Pakistan has escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.
Pakistan, however, repeatedly said that the opening of the Kartarpur corridor will not be hit by the current tension with India.