The online registration of devotees visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur could not be started on Sunday as India and Pakistan have not yet agreed upon on a number of issues, including Islamabad’s insistence of charging $20 from pilgrims, officials said.
India and Pakistan were expected to sign a pact on Saturday on a few unresolved issues of the pilgrimage which did not happen. “Since some issues are yet to be resolved, the online registration for the Kartarpur pilgrimage could not be started on Sunday,” said an official.
Key unresolved issues include Pakistan’s insistence of charging $20 from pilgrims and the timing of the pilgrimage every day, such as first entry and last exit time.
On October 16, Chairman of the Land Ports Authority of India and Additional Secretary in the Home Ministry, Govind Mohan, had said the online registration for pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is expected to start on October 20, provided a pact is signed on remaining issues.
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal accused the Pakistan government of making “a business out of faith,” and called Imran Khan’s statement that the move would benefit Pakistan’s economy “highly shameful.”
The $20 fee each charged by Pak for #KartarpurSahib darshan is atrocious. How will a poor devotee pay this amount? Pakistan has made a business out of faith. @ImranKhanPTI‘s statement that this fee will boost Pak’s economy & result in earning foreign exchange is highly shameful. pic.twitter.com/a0sidEDIPZ
— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) October 20, 2019
India had asked Pakistan to reconsider the decision on charging $20 per pilgrim, allow 10,000 pilgrims on special occasions and an Indian protocol officer to accompany the delegation that visits Kartarpur every day.
Pakistan is yet to respond to India’s requests, the official said.
Last month, India and Pakistan agreed on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib using the Kartarpur corridor. Pilgrims will only have to carry their passports to visit the holy site in Pakistan.
It was agreed between the two nations that 5,000 pilgrims can visit the shrine every day, and additional pilgrims will be allowed on special occasions, subject to capacity expansion of facilities by the Pakistani side.
Both sides agreed to build a bridge over the Budhi Ravi channel near the border crossing point.
India has constructed a four-lane highway in Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in Punjab connecting the “zero point” for onward journey to Pakistan.
An advanced passenger terminal with facilitation centre to host government officials responsible for ensuring hassle-free travel of pilgrims, food kiosks, parking areas and security points will also come up by November 8 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will formally inaugurate the facility. A total of 55 immigration counters are being set up at the passenger terminal.
The corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab with the Gurdwara at Kartarpur, just about four kilometres from the international border. Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, had spent more than 18 years at the Kartarpur gurdwara, located on the banks of the river Ravi. The pilgrimage is to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev beginning next month.
On Sunday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has accepted hi invitation to attend the Kartarpur inauguration ceremony as common man. On October 3, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said Manmohan Singh had agreed to join all-party ‘jatha’ (delegation) to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara to join the mega event after the opening of the corridor.