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Punjab

No Kartarpur agreement yet as Pak wants $20 fee/pilgrim Both Sides Agree On Visa-Free Travel For 5,000 Pilgrims Daily

September 05, 2019 05:49 AM

COURTESY TOI SEPT 5

No Kartarpur agreement yet as Pak wants $20 fee/pilgrim
Both Sides Agree On Visa-Free Travel For 5,000 Pilgrims Daily
Yudhvir.Rana@timesgroup.com

Attari (Punjab):

India and Pakistan on Wednesday failed to finalise an agreement on the Kartarpur Sahib corridor during their third round of talks at Attari over the thorny issue of $20 service fee per pilgrim being demanded by the latter. Other sticky points were Pakistan’s unwillingness to have Indian consular presence on Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara premises and reluctance to allow protocol officials to travel with pilgrims.


The two countries, however, agreed on visa-free travel by Indian pilgrims to the gurdwara, without any restrictions based on their faith. They also agreed that 5,000 pilgrims from India could visit the holy place daily. However, Pakistan did not agree to indicate 10,000 as number of additional pilgrims to be allowed on special occasions, citing infrastructure constraints.

Punjab public works department secretary Hussan Lal, who was part of the Indian delegation, said the Pakistani team had demanded service fee of $20 per pilgrim as they had made huge investments to create infrastructure for the Kartarpur corridor. This was strongly opposed by the Indian side.

The Indian delegation reminded Pakistan that there was no visa requirement for the pilgrimage, so no other kind of fee should be charged. “We hope they will reconsider their demand and the issue will be resolved soon,” said Lal, adding that nowhere in the world was any fee charged to pay obeisance at any Sikh holy place.

Sources said the Indian side has urged Pakistani team to take political guidance and reconsider the positions taken. “It seems they came with brief not to conclude the agreement. They wanted to indulge in propaganda than serious talks,” said an officer.

If India agrees to the $20 entry fee then with 5,000 pilgrims visiting Kartarpur Sahib daily, Pakistan would earn $100,000 per day, which equals to nearly 16 crore in Pakistani rupees.

 

 
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