WASHINGTON – The US has welcomed India and Pakistan signing a key agreement to operationalise the landmark Kartarpur Corridor next month, saying building of people-to-people ties between the two neighbours is “good news”.
India and Pakistan on Thursday signed the agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor that will allow Indian pilgrims to undertake visa-free visit to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the shrine of the Sikh religion’s founder Guru Nanak Dev in Pakistan, notwithstanding a chill in bilateral ties over Kashmir.
The agreement will allow 5,000 Indian pilgrims daily to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib where Guru Nanak spent last 18 years of his life.
“Welcome news of a finalised agreement that paves the way for a corridor between India and Pakistan, allowing Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib,” Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells tweeted on Thursday.
“We look forward to the formal opening in November. Building people-to-people ties between neighbours is good news,” she said.
The corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, just 4 kilometres from the International Border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
India and Pakistan signed the agreement after three rounds of tough negotiations despite bilateral relationship witnessing a chill recent years. The ties touched a new low when India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August following which Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian envoy.
Indian pilgrims of all faiths and persons of Indian origin can use the corridor and the travel will be visa-free. Each visitor would be required to pay USD 20 as fee, though India has requested Pakistan not to charge the Indian pilgrims.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to formally inaugurate the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9, ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on November 12.