Lahore: Pakistan will start a month-long visa process starting September 1 for the Sikh pilgrims from India and other countries who plans to attend the 550 birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November.
The decision was taken on Wednesday by the Religious Tourism and Heritage Committee (RTHC) during a meeting chaired by Governor Chaudhry Sarwar at the Governor House. "Visa process for the Sikh pilgrims from India and other countries will start from September 1 and complete by September 30 in connection with 550 birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak on November 12," Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar said.
Talking to reporters at the Governors' House, Sarwar said: "Pakistan will complete the Kartarpur Corridor Project by November regardless of India's willingness to work on it or not. The Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan will be facilitated in every way." He said the work on setting up a 'tent city' in Nankana Sahib would begin next week and funds had been provided for the completion of a road from Sucha Sauda to Nankana Sahib and work on the project would begin shortly.
Special shuttle service will be launched from the Wagah railway station to the birth place of Baba Guru Nanak. Pakistan and India are still discussing the modalities regarding opening of the corridor at Narowal, some 125-km from Lahore, for Indian Sikhs on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev.
On Sunday, Pakistan said that they are committed to complete Kartarpur Corridor, despite tense ties with India. Tension between India and Pakistan has escalated after New Delhi revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories on August 5. Reacting to India's move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Special Assistant to the PM Firdous Ashiq Awan said that Kartarpur is a sacred place for Sikhs and is the perfect example of interfaith harmony. "Irrespective of India-Pakistan relations Pakistan's doors are open to Sikh pilgrims visiting the Darbar Sahib Kartarpur," Awan said on Sunday.
The corridor will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947. Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India.