India on Thursday demanded Pakistan to waive off the proposed $20 entry fee on Sikh pilgrims using the visa-free Kartarpur corridor, which is expected to be inaugurated on November 9, just ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Baba Guru Nanak on Nov 12.
“After several rounds of discussion with Pakistan, we have reached an agreement on all other issues, except the matter of service fee. Pakistan insists on levying a fee of $20 on all pilgrims,” Indian external ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying.
Islamabad on Monday had sent New Delhi the final draft of the proposed bilateral agreement on Kartarpur corridor which is being built between the two rival neighbours to allow pilgrims from India visit one of the most sacred sites of Sikh religion without visa restrictions.
Kumar expressed the hope that agreement could be signed in time for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
“We have urged Pakistan not to do so in the interests of devotees, and also because this is a P2P (people-to-people) initiative. We hope that the agreement can be concluded and signed in time for the great event,” he said.
Every day 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the holy site and no restriction on number of pilgrims would be put in case of availability of space.
The agreement will be signed by both the parties once India agrees to it. Later, it will be ratified by federal cabinet.
It is expected to be signed either at the Zero Point of Lahore’s Wagah border or the Kartarpur border.
Kartarpur corridor connects Pakistan’s Narowal city to India’s Gurdaspur district.