New Delhi: A day after news reports surfaced that Pakistan has agreed to sign an agreement on the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on October 23, sources told news agency ANI on Tuesday that the signing agreement is unlikely on Wednesday for reasons not yet known. However, the next date of signing the agreement is not yet decided.
The development from the Pakistan side comes after India said that it is ready to sign the agreement with Pakistan, though expressing concern that the neighbouring country did not grant request to withdraw the $ 20 service charge on pilgrims visiting the Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.
“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 USD 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,” MEA said.
The MEA informed that the government of India has taken the initiative to put in place the state of art infrastructure and open the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on the auspicious occasion of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
“In view of the long pending demand of the pilgrims to have visa-free access to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib and in the interest of operationalisation of the Corridor in time before the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak falling on November 12, Government has today conveyed that we would be ready to sign the Agreement on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on October 23, 2019,” the MEA said.
Meanwhile, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal slammed Pakistan for its insistence on charging the fee, saying that the neighbouring state is intent to make a business out of people’s faith. Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, too, had lashed out at Pakistan for demanding the fee.
Earlier, India had urged Pakistan to not impose the proposed $20 fee on pilgrims visiting the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in the interest of devotees.
On October 20, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said the country will open the Corridor on November 9. The development comes after a confusion was created on October 10 when Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal stated that no date has been fixed so far while a Pakistani senior official heading the corridor project announced that Pakistan will allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib from November 9.
“Pakistan is all set to open its doors for Sikhs from all across the globe, as the construction work on Kartarpur project enters final stages and will be open to the public on November 9, 2019,” Khan said in a Facebook post.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the corridor, connecting the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur with Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan on November 8.