New Delhi, November 8, 2019: In another major U-turn, Pakistan will charge USD 20 service charge from all pilgrims visiting the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on November 9, sources said on Friday.
The latest decision to levy service charge on all pilgrims is completely opposite to the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's statement who earlier this month had said on Twitter that Pakistan has waived the entry fee for Indian pilgrims travelling to Kartarpur Gurdwara on two specific days. No fee will be charged on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev and on the day of the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor, he had said.
In a tweet, Khan said he has waived two requirements for Indian pilgrims visiting Kartarpur---they won't need a passport just a valid ID and no advance booking is required.
"For Sikhs coming for a pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India, I have waived 2 requirements: i) they won't need a passport - just a valid ID; ii) they no longer have to register 10 days in advance. Also, no fee will be charged on the day of inauguration & on Guruji's 550th birthday," Khan had tweeted.
However, both his announcements seem hollow considering latest development in which Pakistan's Army spokesman Major Gen Asif Ghafoor on Thursday announced that Indian Sikh pilgrims would require a passport.
"As we have a security link, the entry would be a legal one under a permit on a passport-based identity. There will be no compromise on security or sovereignty," Gen Ghafoor said while talking on a private TV channel.
Pakistan had last month announced to charge pilgrims with the USD 20 service charge, following which India had expressed strong disappointment over the decision and refusal to waive it off.
India had also Pakistan to reconsider its decision given the "religious and spiritual sentiments" of the pilgrims. However, Pakistan has not agreed to India's demand to make the Kartarpur Gurdwara's visit charge-free.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the state-of-the-art Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) Complex at Kartarpur Corridor in Dera Baba Nanak of Punjab's Gurdaspur district on Saturday while his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan will inaugurate the section of the corridor on the other side of the border.
The historic corridor will have all the necessary passenger amenities to facilitate pilgrims intending to visit the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.
India and Pakistan had on October 24 signed an agreement on the modalities for operationalising the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, paving way for its inauguration ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of the Sikh Guru.
The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement but Indian pilgrims are required to carry their passports and will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, which was established by Guru Nanak Dev in 1522.