New Delhi: Finally the final date has come for the signing of the much-talked-about Kartarpur Corridor agreement between India and Pakistan. It has been postponed by a day due to logistic reasons and will take place on October 24 in a low-key ceremony.
Soon after news reports surfaced that the signing of the agreement is unlikely on Wednesday, sources told news agency IANS that the final date has been fixed for October 24. The agreement ceremony will be held at the zero line – means representatives from both the countries will not cross the international border.
The development to fix the final date comes a day after India announced that it was ready to sign the agreement with Pakistan. At the same time, India also expressed concern that the neighbouring country did not grant request to withdraw the $ 20 service charge on pilgrims visiting the Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.
Connecting the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with the gurdwara at Kartarpur, the much-talked-about corridor is just about 4km away from the international border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Monday said it is ready to sign the agreement on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor with Pakistan on October 23.
“While agreeing to sign the Agreement, the Government of Pakistan has been once again urged to reconsider its insistence to levy service fee on pilgrims. India would be ready to amend the Agreement accordingly at any time,” the MEA said in a statement.
The MEA regretted that despite repeated requests, Pakistan continues to insist on imposing a service fee of $20 on pilgrims for the visit.
“It is a matter of disappointment that while understanding has been reached on most of the elements for facilitating the visit of pilgrims from India, Pakistan continues to insist on levying a service fee of $20 per pilgrim per visit. Government has consistently urged Pakistan that in deference to the wishes of the pilgrims, it should not levy such a fee,” the MEA said.
As per updates, over 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the holy site on a daily basis. Just a week ahead of the celebrations to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the 4.2-km-long corridor will be completed by October 31.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the corridor on November 9, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will attend the event as a ‘common man’. PM Modi on the inauguration day will dispatch the first batch of pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara.
In November last year, the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor was laid in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu.