The Government of Pakistan has fulfilled a long-awaited demand of the Sikh community and Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to inaugurate today the extended Gurdwara Darbar Sahib and the Kartarpur Corridor.
To facilitate the Sikh yatris, the government has installed 130 counters, where their passports will be confirmed or scanned, and permit will be verified.
Pilgrims will be charged $20 each under service charges. However, they will be exempted from paying the charges on the day of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.
Former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Pakistan via Kartarpur Corridor on Saturday.
“Today is a historic moment for the Sikh community,” Singh said on arrival. “Opening of the corridor will help improve relations between Pakistan and India.”
Indian Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh also arrived via Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan for the inauguration.
Indian cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu also attended inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor on Saturday. Earlier, Indian authorities had barred Sidhu from entering Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah border.
According to the Foreign Office of Pakistan, over ten thousand Sikhs from India and other parts of the world attended the inauguration ceremony.
Sikhs have urged India to facilitate access to the Gurdwara in Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district.
Pakistan Sikh Council (PSC) Patron-in-Chief Sardar Ramesh Singh Khalsa said while speaking to local media Pakistan, the Kartarpur Corridor’s opening on Saturday was in line with Sikhism founder Guru Nanak’s teachings of inclusion, peace, and interfaith harmony and that he was speechless after seeing “tears of joy in the eyes of his Sikh brethren”.
However, the Sikh leader said New Delhi, too, needed to do something similar for the Sikh community living in Pakistan. “We appeal that India should allow the Sikh community to go to Gurudwara Baba Sri Chand Ji in Dera Baba Nanak,” he added.
The premier had also announced that he had directed that the condition for pilgrims to register 10 days before their arrival to the Kartarpur shrine be waived.
Furthermore, the pilgrims who arrive on the day of the Kartarpur Corridor’s opening and on Baba Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary will not be charged any fee to visit.
Up to 5,000 Indian Sikhs have been allowed access daily, with plans to eventually double the capacity.
Indian Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday for his “cooperation” on a visa-free corridor allowing Indian Sikhs to visit one of their religion´s holiest sites across the border in Pakistan.
“I would like to thank the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, for respecting the sentiments of India. I thank him for his cooperation,” Modi said in televised comments from the inauguration of the corridor on the Indian side of the border.