Will Kartarpur Corridor Usher Peace?

2 mins read

Rezwan Sultan

Amid prevailing tensions between India and Pakistan over India’s decision to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, historic Kartarpur corridor agreement has been signed off last week between the two countries. The agreement was signed off at Kartarpur zero point at the international border.

With this agreement, the Indian citizens of Sikh faith will be allowed to travel for the pilgrimage through this corridor at Gurduwara Darbar Sahib Shrine of Guru Nanak Dev (founder of Sikh religion) without having visa in Kartarpur Pakistan. Guru Nanak spent his last 18 years of his life at Darbar Sahib Shrine. This was the long pending demand of Sikh community living in Indian Punjab. The agreement was signed between S C L Das, Joint Secretary at Union Home Ministry and Mohammad Faisal, foreign spokesman of Pakistan and director general (South Asia and SAARC).

According to the Home ministry Indian pilgrims of all faiths and persons of Indian origin can use the corridor and the travel will be visa free. Pilgrims only need to carry a valid passport while persons of the Indian origin need to carry overseas citizen of India (OCI) card along with their passport of the country.

Under the agreement, the corridor will remain open for seven days a week from dawn to dusk. 5000 pilgrims can travel every day to the shrine. The pilgrims have to register themselves online on the portal prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in and exercise their choice to travel on any day. Each pilgrim has to pay a USD 20 (nearly Rs 1420) as fee which India requested Pakistan to not charge.

Talking about the fee, Mohammad Faisal has said that “under agreement Pakistan will charge a very nominal fee of USD 20 from every Indian Sikh Pilgrim on a single trip. On the face of the huge expanses this amount is very nominal, this Gurduwara is the biggest in the world,” he added.

Rules and regulations for Travelling the Shrine under Agreement:

Under the agreement, the Pilgrims will not be allowed to venture beyond the Shrine. Faisal has clarified that those Indian pilgrims visiting shrine through corridor will not be allowed to visit other Gurduwaras in Punjab Province of Pakistan. Any Indian citizen aspiring to visit other Gurduwaras in Punjab province needs to get visa. The pilgrims cannot carry firearms, knife, and blade, narcotic and psychotropic drugs. Further smoking, drinking alcohol and use of tobacco is prohibited and playing loud music and photographing others without permission is also not allowed there. Pilgrims are advised not to touch any unattended article.

Meanwhile, pilgrims will be allowed to carry a cash of maximum Rs 11,000 and 7kg bag. Children’s below the age of 13 and elders above 75 of age can only travel in groups. Visitors can carry all kinds of Kirpans with them. Prime Minster of Pakistan Imran Khan will formally inaugurate the corridor on November 9, ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Will it bring any change in Indo-Pak Relations?

Even though the Pakistan Prime minister, Imran Khan termed the corridor as “peace gesture” from his country, there is unlikely that this corridor may open any hope of friendship between the two countries.

India has already made it clear that there will be no talks with Pakistan on Kashmir and the hopes further shallow after India abrogated Article 370. India’s decision has brought the two countries on the brink of war and Pakistan called off all the diplomatic relations that was followed by fiery speech of Imran Khan at United Nations in September.

Earlier the then foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had rejected the invitation by Pakistan during the laying of foundation stone of the corridor by Pakistan. She even said that there will be no talks with Pakistan after opening of the corridor. Khan on the other side had said that only issue between the two countries is Kashmir and urged India to hold dialogue on all issues with him to avoid any chances for confrontation given to the nuclear capabilities of two countries.

Khan’s statement prompted external Affairs ministry in India to issue a statement and reiterating that Kashmir is India’s integral part, but for any dialogue Pakistan needs to shun terror. “Talks and terror cannot go together”.

So what the corridor will change between the two countries amid the rising tensions with all diplomatic and political channels locked, only the time will tell.

 

 

 

 

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