Sikh Yatrees not to be charged with any fee


By Our Diplomatic Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Abiding by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment, Pakistan will not receive services charges of $20 from Sikh pilgrims visiting Kartarpur Gurdwara on Nov 9 and 12 on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Baba Guru Nanak, says the Foreign Office.
“We recall that as special gesture on auspicious occasion of 550th anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, PM Imran Khan had announced waiver of requirements of passport & registration of pilgrims 10 days in advance. Unfortunately, Indian side has declined these facilitative measures,” Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said in a series of tweets today.
He further said: “PM Imran Khan had also announced 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.”
During a weekly news briefing on Nov 7, the FO spokesman had said that no fee will be charged from the Sikh pilgrims coming to Kartarpur on November 9 and 10. The passport condition for the travelers was waived off only for one year, he told.
Dr Faisal further said that Indian cricketer and politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has been issued the visa to attend the opening ceremony of the corridor on November 9.
Responding to a question, the spokesperson said the opening of the Kartarpur corridor was the sole initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan which was then followed by the Indian side.
The spokesperson regretted the Indian posture of not reciprocating to Pakistan’s peace overtures for resolution of all outstanding disputes including those relating to Kashmir, water, Sir Creek and Siachen.
Dr Muhammad Faisal said humanitarian nightmare in occupied Kashmir is worsening with continuous military lockdown and communications blockade by India.  He said eight million Kashmiri people have been cut off from the rest of the world.  He asked the world community to impress upon India to half blatant human rights violations in occupied Kashmir and move towards resolution of the festering dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.
Agencies add: The requirements of passports and registrations have been restored by the authorities after New Delhi’s objection over waiver for Sikh pilgrims arriving in Pakistan from India through Kartarpur corridor, Dunya News reported on Friday.
According to the diplomatic sources, it is not possible for Pakistan to not check the documents of the travelers if India examines the passports first. It has been learnt that the special relaxation, earlier given by Pakistan, cannot be implemented after India’s refusal.
Both countries have started working on exchange of pilgrims’ lists. It is pertinent here to mention that Islamabad had waived off the clause of passports and registrations for one year in the wake of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.
On the other hand, foreign office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal talked to Dunya News and told that the Indian travelers will arrive in Pakistan through Kartarpur corridor and Wagah border. Sikh community from other countries will also be able to attend the celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary on November 9, he added.
Former prime minister of India Manmohan Singh, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, Indian Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will attend the ceremony among others. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will be the chief guest on the occasion.