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Friday 17 January 2020

Kartarpur Corridor: Pakistan ready for talks on India’s terms

India and Pakistan had earlier reached an agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor except on the condition of service charges for the pilgrims

India said on Monday that it was ready to sign the agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor with Pakistan on 23 October, but added it was “very disappointing” that every pilgrim to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib situated in the neighbouring country would have to pay $ 20 (about Rs 1,420) that Islamabad is adamant on charging. A day ago, BJP’s RP Singh had termed the pilgrim fee as “jizya, a tax Muslim rulers levies on non-Muslim subjects in the medieval era — in the name of ‘protecting’ the non-ruling class of people.

The External Affairs Ministry said in a statement that Pakistan had agreed to sign an agreement on the issue and India was ready to do so, too. At the same time, India is requesting reconsideration from its western neighbour to remove the fee imposed by Pakistan on the entry of Indian devotees. The statement said that India was ready at all times for an amended agreement.

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The Ministry of External Affairs said that it was very disappointing that even after repeated requests, Pakistan was adamant on charging the pilgrims. In view of the faith of the devotees, the neighbouring country should not levy such a fee, the MEA said.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, both India and Pakistan have reached an agreement on the corridor except on the condition of service charges. India has informed the Government of Pakistan that it is ready to sign the agreement on 23 October.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Kartarpur Corridor from India on 8 November. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced that his country would open the much-awaited Kartarpur Corridor on 9 November.

This proposed corridor will connect Darbar Sahib of Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab so that Indian pilgrims are able to make a visa-free movement. Devotees just have to obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib.

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