Kartarpur: Pakistan confirms waiver of $20 to pilgrims

A view of Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (PTI)

Tension between India and Pakistan continued to cast a shadow over the “Kartarpur Corridor”, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart in the neighbouring country, Imran Khan, will inaugurate the stretches of the corridor on the respective sides of the border on Saturday.

Though about 550 pilgrims from India are set to travel through the cross-border corridor to visit the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan on the day of its inauguration, confusion prevailed over the arrangement. Islamabad is learnt to have conveyed to New Delhi early on Friday that each pilgrim from India would have to pay Pakistan Government $ 20 as service fee for using the corridor on the day of inauguration as agreed upon in the bilateral agreement the two sides had inked on October 24.

This was contrary to a tweet by Pakistan Prime Minister who had announced that the pilgrims visiting the shrine using the corridor on Saturday as well as on November 12 – the day the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak would be celebrated – would not have to pay the service fee.

The confusion persisted throughout the day till Pakistan Government clarified on social media that the waiver on $ 20 announced by the country's Prime Minister would be implemented.

Mohammad Faisal, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Government, alleged that New Delhi had declined the exemptions offered to the pilgrims.

“We recall that as a special gesture on the auspicious occasion of 550th anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, PM Imran Khan had announced waiver of requirements of passport & (and) registration of pilgrims 10 days in advance,” Faisal posted on Twitter: “Unfortunately, the Indian side has declined these facilitative measures.”

“PM Imran Khan had also announced a waiver of service charges of US $ 20 on 9 and 12 November 2019. Abiding by the PM’s commitment, Pakistan will not receive any service charge from pilgrims on these two dates,” Mohammad Faisal, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Government, posted on Twitter.

New Delhi, on the other hand, accused Islamabad of trying to unilaterally abrogate the bilateral agreement. “They never made a proposal (for changing the agreement), but announced (exemptionms) unilaterally, through a tweet. Then their ISPR said something different,” a source said in New Delhi. “India has taken a consistent position that let the provisions of the agreement prevail till these are amended through mutual consent to avoid confusion to the pilgrims,” said the sources.

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