Over 10,000 Sikhs to attend Kartarpur Corridor inauguration: FO

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Shamim Mehmood

Islamabad

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal has said that more than 10,000 Sikhs from India and other countries are expected to attend inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor on Saturday November 9.

Dr Faisal stated this during a weekly news briefing in Islamabad on Thursday. He said that on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the Pakistan government has waived the condition of carrying passports for Sikh pilgrims and also waived the $20 service charge per pilgrim per visit on Nov 9 and Nov 12. The foreign office spokesperson maintained the government has conveyed the message to Indian High Commission.

Faisal said that 5,000 Sikh pilgrims will arrive from India, while the same number of pilgrims will reach Kartarpur from other countries, including Britain, Malaysia, Canada, Australia etc. He pointed out that Sikh pilgrims will not be allowed to travel anywhere else and their stay duration will be for a day.

Dr Faisal said the idea of opening the Kartarpur Corridor was initiated by the prime minister and it will provide an opportunity to Sikh community to pay homage to Baba Guru Nanak. Regarding Kashmir issue, he said that the crisis in Indian Occupied Kashmir is worsening day by day and the continuous lockdown has made lives of innocent Kashmiris miserable.

The spokesman rejected the propaganda linking Pakistan’s efforts on Kartarpur Corridor to encouraging Khalistan movement, saying, “There is no such negativity in our policy.”

He said Kartarpur Corridor was solely the initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan, which was subsequently followed by India after much hesitation.

Asked if Pakistan would like to open similar Corridors with Kargil and Laddakh to facilitate meeting of families living across the border, he said Pakistan had no objection on opening of more passages, however India’s hesitation in holding discussions on several matters was a major hurdle.

The foreign office official urged the world leaders to take notice of blatant violation of human rights in held valley and press India to resolve the issue in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions. Over harassment of Pakistani diplomats in Afghanistan, Dr Faisal said the Afghan government has been asked to provide protection to the members of Pakistani mission. Commenting on peace agreement between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, he said the deal will reduce tension in the region.