The Foreign Office on confirmed it had issued a visa to former Indian cricketer and politician Navjot Singh Sidhu for Kartarpur Corridor inauguration.
"Pakistan has issued visa to Indian politician Navjot Singh Sidhu for his visit to holy shrine of Baba Guru Nanak," Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said during his weekly briefing.
The spokesperson clarified that the passport waiver for Kartarpur pilgrims would extend up to one year as a special gesture on the 550th birth anniversary of Sikh leader Baba Guru Nanak.
“The $20 service fee per pilgrim would not be charged for first two days after inauguration of Corridor, i.e. on November 9 and 10,” he said.
He added the package of goodwill gestures also included abolishing the requirement of 10-day advance intimation.
Dr Faisal said Pakistan was expecting a massive inflow of Sikhs from all over the world to visit their revered site on Saturday, adding that the incumbent government had in particular interest in promotion of religious tourism.
“Under the 1974 agreement with New Delhi regarding religious pilgrims, about five thousand pilgrims will come from India whereas our missions abroad have issued the same number of visas,” Dr Faisal said. “Pilgrims from different countries including Canada, Britain, America, Singapore, Malaysia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, New Zealand and Australia will attend the inauguration ceremony,”
He said the promotion of Hindu and Buddhist sacred situated inside Pakistan was also under consideration as the country was a cradle of ancient civilizations for centuries.
Rejecting the propaganda linking Pakistan’s efforts on Kartarpur Corridor to encouraging Khalistan movement, Dr Faisal said, “There was no such negativity in our policy.”
He added Kartarpur Corridor was solely the initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan, which was subsequently followed by India after much hesitation.
When asked if Pakistan would like to open similar Corridors with Kargil and Laddakh to facilitate meeting of families living across the border, he said Pakistan had no objection on opening of more passages, however India’s hesitation in holding discussions on several matters was a major hurdle.
Responding to another question, the spokesperson said dates for the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are being worked out and that he would visit soon.
In response to another question about the recent map issued by the government of India identifying Azad Kashmir as well as certain areas of Gilgit-Baltistan as its territory, the spokesman said, “Pakistan’s position is in line with UN Security Council resolutions which states, that Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory.”