Kartarpur corridor: Pakistan's initial draft proposes permit-based entry to 500 pilgrims per day

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: Dec 29, 2018, 08:21 PM IST

File photo. Photograph:(Zee News Network)

Story highlights

The government of India will have to share the details of pilgrims and security clearance certificate with Pakistan three days prior to their entry through the Kartarpur corridor. 

WION has accessed the initial draft on Kartarpur agreement which Pakistan will be proposing to India. According to the draft, Pakistan will be issuing a permit which will allow entry to 500 pilgrims per day. It will be visa-free travel but pilgrims will have to carry their passport and security clearance from India. 

The government of India will have to share the details of pilgrims and their security clearance certificate with the Pakistan government three days prior to their entry through the Kartarpur corridor. 

It is also proposed that the pilgrims must constitute a group of 15 people for the visit. The corridor will be open from 8 am to 5 pm. Both the sides will be creating a database of visiting pilgrims along with their travel history.

The Indian side is yet to receive the draft which says that, "Pakistan reserves the right to refuse entry, reduce the period of stay or terminate the stay in its territory of any pilgrim despite the grant of permit" if it considers "the pilgrim is found undesirable for security or other purposes."

In case of a dispute, it will be "amicably settled between parties through the diplomatic channel." Any side can terminate the agreement any time by giving one month's notice. The agreement also does not affect the existing commitments on border security. 

On November 22, the Indian cabinet passed a resolution to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji in 2019 and approved the building of Kartarpur Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district till the border. On the same day, Delhi informed Islamabad about its decision through Pakistan High Commission and urged Pakistan to develop a corridor in their territory.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone for the construction of the corridor on the Indian side on November 26 2018. Pak Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone on November 28 in Pakistan. Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister of State (IC) for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri attended the groundbreaking ceremony on the Pakistan side as representatives of the government of India.

India has been doubtful of Pakistan's intentions owing to incidents like Pak foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's "googly" remark. Reacting to the remark, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said a few days ago, "Some people went from here and certain comments were made from that side, so I think there is hardly any need to speak further on this issue. I think their intentions on doing this thing was not with clear conscious which we felt from their certain statements."

The Transport Ministry is the nodal ministry for developing the corridor while the Home Ministry is in charge of coordinating with the concerned authorities, including the local government.

A high-level committee under the chairmanship of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has been constituted to review, monitor and oversee the activities as approved by the Cabinet for the implementation of the decisions in the matter.

Sources have told WION that India considers "Kartarpur corridor a cultural initiative and not a diplomatic initiative" and it will not lead to the start of any dialogue process. 

In a written statement in the Parliament, Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh said, "the Kartarpur corridor on the Indian side is envisaged to be an integrated development project with the government of India, funding for smooth and easy passage of Indian pilgrims with modern amenities."

India has also proposed pilgrim’s visit to shrines in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) including Sharda Peeth; Islamabad has not concurred with the proposal so far.