LAHORE (Dunya News) – Despite 18 days left for the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor, India has halted the registration process for the Sikh pilgrims who intend to visit Pakistan’s Kartarpur on the 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in early November, due to unclear reasons, sources familiar with the matter told Dunya News on Monday.
Contrarily, Pakistan’s on this side of the border pushed the Kartarpur corridor into its final phase for facilitating Sikh pilgrims and promoting religious harmony.
Sources said that so far both countries could not agree to a number of issues, including India’s aberrant demand to Pakistan to abolish $20 charge per pilgrim. However, Pakistan has repeatedly refused this demand, turning the matter into serious bone of contention.
Both South Asian rivals were due to sign a pact to settle the remaining issues by the end of last week, but that did not happen.
Reportedly, construction process and painting of the shrine has been completed and electricity has been supplied to the site from Shakar Garh’s grid station.
Imported marble has been used on the floor of the shrine that is spread on 10 acres. Fire extinguishers, sound systems and CCTV security cameras have been installed at the site.
Besides, construction of temporary guesthouses and a border terminal building has also been completed.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the project on November 9, three days before the 550th birth anniversary Baba Guru Nanank that will be celebrated on November 12.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a message shared on social media on Sunday, reiterated that the work on the Kartarpur Corridor has entered last stage.
He further mentioned that Sikhs from all countries will travel to the world s largest Gurdwara. “This Gurdwara will strengthen local economy […] many jobs will also be created in travelling, religious tourism and hospitality sectors,” he stated. “Buddhists have also been coming to visit different religious spots in Pakistan.”
Pakistan had also accepted India’s demand of facilitating visa-free movement of 5,000 Sikh pilgrims per day, and now they will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur.
In November last year, Khan laid the foundation stone for the corridor, months after he assumed office after winning majority of seats in the parliament. India’s cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and other officials had attended the ceremony.
Earlier, Pakistan formally invited former prime minister of India Manmohan Singh to attend the opening ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor on the occasion of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.
Speaking on the invitation to former PM Manmohan Singh, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday said he (Manmohan Singh) will visit Pakistan as a ‘yatri’ (ordinary citizen) and not as chief guest for the corridor’s opening.
“He is welcome even as a common participant,” the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said while talking to the media on Saturday.
Mr Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan would inaugurate Pakistan’s part of the corridor, facilitating pilgrimage of 5,000 Indian Sikhs everyday to their holy place. India was initially reluctant to open the corridor but due to public pressure from the Indian Punjab, New Delhi decided to arrange a ceremony related to the corridor the same day, he said, adding that the arrangements made by Pakistan were way better than those being finalised by India.
The corridor will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947.
Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border is being constructed by India.
India is constructing a bridge at the zero point and has urged Pakistan to build a similar bridge on its side that will provide safe and secure movement of pilgrims.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan has taken a number of actions, including downgrading of diplomatic ties, suspension of trade and rail traffic, and expulsion of the Indian High Commissioner.