NEW DELHI: Pakistan has said that it will open the much-awaited Kartarpur Corridor on 9 November for Indian-Sikh pilgrims to cross over to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
Eighty-six percent of the work on the corridor has been completed and it will be opened for pilgrims on 9 November, project director Atif Majid told Pakistani and foreign journalists, who were visiting the Kartarpur Corridor for the first time in Narowal, some 125 kilometres from Lahore, PTI news agency said.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will only have to obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib.
Both countries have agreed that Pakistan will allow 5,000 Sikh visitors per day, though the number will later rise to 10,000,Majid said.
India last week said there were several issues of disagreement dogging the opening of the corridor including Pakistan’s insistence to levy $ 20 service charge on every pilgrim who goes across — something India objected to. India also wants an indian protocol officer to be allowed to go with the pilgrims to facilitate their movement, something Islamabad had not agreed to, indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters urging Pakistan to shed its inflexible approach to the matter.
It is not clear whether the indian terms had been accepted. The Indian foreign ministry did not immediately comment on the report.
In Pakistan, Majid said that 76 immigration counters have been set up to cater to the pilgrims, who will be given "airport-like facilities". The Pakistan Gurdwara Sikh Parbhandik Committee will provide the visiting pilgrims with free food and medicine, the official added.
Tensions spiked between India and Pakistan after New Delhi abrogated provisions of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan however, maintains that the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor will not be affected by the tensions with India.