NANKANA SAHIB (Dunya News) – The federal government revealed on Monday that pilgrims and travelers from countries other than India will get tourist visas from Pakistan for visiting the shrine of Baba Guru Nanak under the Kartarpur Corridor project initiated by the country to promote religious harmony.
Foreign ministry sources told Dunya News that the Sikh pilgrims as tourists from countries other than India would be able to travel across Pakistan, including Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal and Nankana Sahib, and would not be confined to Kartarpur Sahib.
Furthermore, the $20 service charges will not be applicable to those Sikh pilgrims or tourists.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Sikh pilgrims from India can only stay at the shrine of Baba Guru Nanak – one of Sikhism’s holiest sites in Pakistan where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, died in the 16th Century – from dawn till dusk and are required to pay $20 per pilgrim.
While Sikh pilgrims from India do not need a visa for Pakistan; however they are required to obtain a permit before their departure.
Without a visa, Sikh pilgrims are expected to visit the shrine on the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism in early November. The corridor leads from the border straight to the gurdwara.
The Sikh minority in India has long sought easier access to the temple, which is just over the border in Pakistan.
The shrine is about 4 km (2-1/2 miles) from the border. The crossing and corridor - including a road, bridge over the Ravi River and immigration office - will replace a drawn-out visa process and circuitous journey through Pakistan.
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.
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.
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.
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, also called Kartarpur Sahib, is a gurdwara in Kartarpur, Shakargarh, Narowal District, Pakistan.
It is built on the historic site where Guru Nanak settled and assembled the Sikh commune after his missionary travels. The present gurdwara is built on the site where Guru Nanak died on 22 September 1539.
The shrine was built to commemorate the site where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life until his death in 1539.
The present building was built in 1925 at a cost of Rs.1,35,600, after the original one was destroyed by floods. It was repaired by the Government of Pakistan in 1995, and fully restored in 2004, at a significant amount.
It is considered to be the second holiest site for Sikhism after Gurdwara Janam Asthan in Pakistan, which was built at the site where Guru Nanak was born.