Officials from Pakistan and India have agreed on a daily visa-free entry of as many as 5000 Sikh pilgrims to Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara throughout the year.
The historic decision was taken during the second round of bilateral talks at Wagah border on Sunday.
The facility is for Indian Sikh pilgrims; however, non-resident Indian Sikhs can also travel to the religious sites in Pakistan using the corridor.
According to Indian news agency ANI, an additional 10,000 pilgrims will be allowed to travel on special occasions.
This is a breakthrough because, in the first round of talks, Pakistan had agreed to allow a maximum of 500 to 700 Indian travelers across the border and was hesitant to let the activity continue for 365 days a year.
In May this year, India had almost pulled out of the talks due to concerns that Pakistan may incite the Khalistan movement using the Kartarpur card. However, Islamabad officials assured India it will not let such elements use the corridor for anti-India activities.
Dr. Mohammad Faisal, the focal person of the Foreign Office, was leading the Pakistani delegation during the meeting.
At the end of the talks, he recused from sharing the details, but said that “80 percent and beyond was agreed upon.”
He said the two sides might need another meeting to seal the deal.
The Indian home ministry claimed to have shared the details of a bridge that India was building on its side and urged Pakistan to make one on their side – Islamabad agreed.
According to them, this was a necessary move because there was a possibility of flooding in Dera Baba Nanak and adjoining areas, located in Gurdaspur District.
Why is Kartarpur Important for Sikh Community?
The Gurudwara Kartarpur Darbar Sahib – situated in Punjab’s Narowal city – holds great significance for the Sikh community.
The corridor connects the two religious sites for the Sikhs – Darbar Sahib in Pakistan and the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur.
This place is where the Sikh religious leader, Baba Guru Nanak, settled down after his travels as a missionary in 1521. There he lived for 18 years until his death in 1539.
In August last year, Pakistan had offered to open the corridor on the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji.