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Kartarpur Corridor: Pakistan wants to charge service fee for visiting the Gurudwara, India says no

India and Pakistan agreed to build the bridge at Budhi Ravi Channel for the Kartarpur corridor

The third round of talks between India and Pakistan on the Kartarpur Corridor ended without reaching an agreement today. However, the two sides did agree on visa-free travel for pilgrims and allowing Indians holding the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib through the corridor.

India rejected Pakistan’s proposal of charging a service fee for visiting the Gurudwara. Pakistan was also unwilling to allow the presence of Indian Consular or Protocol Officials at the Gurudwara premises. These hurdles prevented an agreement from being reached.

“Pakistan has insisted on charging a service fee for allowing pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, which is not agreeable in the spirit of smooth and easy access through the corridor. Pakistan has also shown its unwillingness to allow the presence of Indian consular or protocol officials at the gurdwara premises. Pakistan’s side has been urged to reconsider its position,” a government source was quoted by The Hindu as saying.

“Both sides agreed to build the bridge at Budhi Ravi Channel. Pending the construction of the bridge on the Pakistan side, both sides agreed to the crossing point coordinates of the temporary service road being built. Both sides also agreed upon emergency evacuation procedures, especially medical emergencies. A direct line of communication between Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers will be used for the same,” officials are reported to have said.

“We are hopeful to give a final shape to the draft agreement of Kartarpur corridor in today’s talks with India. Some 90 per cent work on the project has been completed and Pakistan is committed to opening the corridor in November,” said Foreign Office spokesperson and Director General of South Asia and SAARC Mohammad Faisal, the leader of the Pakistani delegation on the matter.

Union minister Harsimrat Badal said, while reacting to Pakistan’s demand, “I’m shocked that Pakistan is making such a demand; they want to charge a community which wants to offer prayers.” She added, “It’s evident that they are trying to create roadblocks, as the plan has been in the works for one-and-a-half years and only two months are left for the corridor to open.”

This was the second meeting on the Kartarpur Corridor issue between the two countries after the abrogation of Article 370. Amidst tensions between the two countries, it was reported earlier that the Pakistani establishment wants to revive Khalistani terrorism through the corridor.

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