Pakistan has proposed that only 500 permits per day be given to pilgrims visiting Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan. To put things in context, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest Sikh shrine few kilometres from Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara on Indian side, feeds an average of 1,00,000 pilgrims in the Langar, with the number of devotees visiting the shrine expected to be much higher.
The Pakistan government is said to have finalised the agreement to be submitted to the Indian government regarding facilitating the processes for a visa-free pilgrimage to Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur situated in Pakistan.
According to the reports, Islamabad has prepared a 59-page draft document with 14 key recommendations to finalise the modalities with New Delhi regarding the visa-free travel of pilgrims to Kartarpur. The recommendations call for Indian pilgrims to be given free entry and that facilitation centres and security check-posts to be set up on both sides of the border.
The document is reportedly leaked to the Pakistan media, has proposals seeking to limit the number of pilgrims visiting the shrine and the Pakistani government has also asked for a three-day advance list of pilgrims along with their security clearance papers.
The full text of the proposals sent by Pakistan government to India government is as follows:
1. The objective of this agreement is to facilitate visa-free travel of the pilgrims from India to Kartarpur Sahib.
2. In order to implement this agreement, the parties shall establish infrastructure in their respective territories, including facilitation centres and counters for running security checks and issuance of permits for the facilitation of pilgrims.
3. A database of the pilgrims shall be created by the parties having names, travel history and other relevant information of the pilgrims.
4. The Government of Pakistan may issue a permit to pilgrims desirous of paying a visit to Kartarpur Sahib, subject to the following conditions:
a. The pilgrims must constitute a group of at least 15 people;
b. The pilgrims must carry Indian passports and individual security clearance certificates issued by the Government of India, in English, for the purpose of visiting Kartarpur Sahib.
c. The Government of India shall share with the Government of Pakistan details of the pilgrims and their respective security clearance certificates 3 days prior to their entry through the Kartarpur Corridor.
d. The permit shall only be issued for the purpose of visit to Kartarpur Sahib, subject to such further limitations as may be prescribed by the Government of Pakistan.
5. The number of permits granted may not be more than five-hundred (500) per day.
6. The Kartarpur Corridor shall remain open from 8 am to 5 pm daily.
7. The Government of Pakistan reserves the right to refuse entry into, reduce the period of stay or terminate the stay in its territory, of any pilgrim despite the grant of permit to such pilgrim if It considers that the pilgrim is found undesirable for security or other purposes.
8. The agreement shall be implemented in accordance with the National laws of the parties.
9. This agreement shall not exempt the pilgrims from the obligation to respect the laws and regulations of Pakistan when entering into its territory, including but not limited to the laws and regulations concerning their entry, stay and exit.
10. This agreement does not affect the existing commitments under the agreements between the parties concerning border security.
11. All disputes arising from or in connection with the application or the interpretation of this agreement shall be amicably settled between the parties through the diplomatic channels.
12. This agreement may be amended, supplemented or modified by written mutual agreements of the parties.
13. This Agreement shall enter into force on the date of signatures by the parties and shall remain valid for a period of — years unless terminated earlier. The parties may extend the duration of this agreement for any period by mutual consent In writing.
14. Either party may terminate this agreement at any time by giving a notice of one month to the other party of its intention to terminate this agreement.
Kartarpur Sahib is located four kilometres across the border on the banks of the River Ravi, and it is considered to be the highest seat of worship for Sikhs is visible from the Indian side. With India and Pakistan agreeing to open the Kartarpur corridor for visa-free entry of pilgrims in November, the trip is expected to get a lot smoother.
On November 22, the government of India had announced its intention to build the Indian side of the Kartarpur Corridor and had urged Pakistan to reciprocate by building the corridor on Pakistan side. Harsimrat Badal, along with Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri had officially attended the foundation laying ceremony of Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan.
Navjot Singh Sidhu had eagerly accepted the invitation of the Pakistan government while Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had declined the invitation sent to him. Captain Amarinder Singh had said that due to continued terrorist attacks in Punjab and horrific killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistan, he will not be attending the event.
Senior Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu had caused a severe controversy after he posed with dreaded Khalistani terrorist Gopal Singh Chawla during his controversial visit to Pakistan to inaugurate the Kartarpur corridor.