After hype on Kartarpur, Pakistan wants restrictions on movement of pilgrims

New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Mar 15, 2019, 09:21 PM(IST)

Kartarpur gurudwara. (Picture courtesy: Pakistan Foreign Ministry) Photograph:( WION )

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Pakistan has said that the number of Indian pilgrims visiting the shrine in that country should be capped at 500.

Just like its false promises on terrorism, Pakistan has been found indulging in a duplicitous game on the much-hyped Kartarpur issue too as it has proposed a number of restrictions on the movement of pilgrims, thus defeating the very purpose of having a dedicated corridor.

Pakistan has said that the number of Indian pilgrims visiting the shrine in that country should be capped at 500 even while India has approved facilities wherein up to 5,000 pilgrims can be handled daily and over 15,000 pilgrims on special occasions, government sources said here on Friday.

Pakistan, after having assured visa-free passage to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, has now brought in, through the back door, the requirement of issue special permits by them to pilgrim, which defeats the basic purpose of having a dedicated corridor, the sources said, a day after the two countries first delegation-level talks to operationalise the corridor.

The meeting was held at Attari in Gurdaspur district of Punjab yesterday during which issues like finalisation of the draft agreement between the two countries for facilitating smooth and easy access to Corridor Kartarpur Sahib to the visiting Indian pilgrims were discussed.

Against the hype created by the Pakistan government and Pakistan media, its actual offer on the ground turned out to be a damp squib, the sources said.

Pakistan's double-speak on the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor stood exposed in the first meeting on the proposal as there is a considerable difference in what Pakistan authorities, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, had announced on various occasions, and in what they have offered now, the sources said.

The sources likened it to Pakistan’s old reputation of making false promises and tall claims but delivering nothing as has been the case of so-called ‘Naya’ (new) Pakistan which has failed to act against the terror infrastructure and terrorist havens on its soil, despite assurances given to the international community.

Having tried to first create a hype about the Kartarpur Corridor, Pakistan now seeks to impose too many restrictions on the proposed corridor facility, like capping the number of pilgrims to only 500 per day, seeking to restrict the corridor facility to only Indian Sikh `Yatris', not allowing movement, of devotees on foot, restricting the travel into groups of at least 15 persons, issue of special permits despite assurance of visa-free movement, they said.

While the Government of India has made a serious effort to fulfil the long-standing aspiration of the Indian pilgrims and devotees of Shri Guru Nanak Dev abroad, Pakistan has tried to scuttle the move through its highly inadequate and restrictive responses to the Indian requests which were conveyed, in the form of a draft Agreement, to Pakistan few days ago by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, the sources said.

Its approach to Kartarpur Sahib Corridor reflects a thinly-veiled attempt to conceal its narrow, ulterior objectives of pursuing its subversive and divisive agenda against India and encouraging elements inimical to India, they said.

While India has approved a state-of-the-art passenger terminal building, with all modern amenities and capacity to handle over 5,000 pilgrims daily and over 15,000 pilgrims on special occasions, Pakistan has sought to limit it to mere 500 pilgrims per day, the sources said.

India is also shocked to learn that Pakistan has allowed rampant encroachment on the lands belonging to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, the sources said.

These lands, donated to the Gurdwara by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and other eminent Sikh devotees over a period of time, have also been acquired by the government of Pakistan.

India has protested against the impropriety of arbitrarily depriving the Gurdwara of its legal possessions, in utter disregard to the sentiments of the devotees of Shri Guru Nanak Dev in India, the sources said.

Strong demand has been made by the Indian side for early restoration of these lands to the Gurdwara, keeping in view the strong sentiments on the issue among devotees in India.

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