Kartarpur corridor: Amarinder asks Pak to be ‘more amenable, responsive’
Chandigarh, Mar 15 : Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Friday urged Pakistan to be “more amenable and responsive” to India’s demands, which include visa-free access for 5,000 pilgrims a day to a historic gurdwara in Kartarpur in the neighbouring nation.
He expressed disappointment at Pakistan’s reported response to the issues raised by New Delhi during the first meeting on the Kartarpur corridor that took place on Thursday at the Attari-Wagah border.
In a statement issued here, the chief minister said the response of Islamabad to India’s demands was “totally inadequate” and the neighbouring country needed to reconsider its stand if the corridor was to serve its purpose.
The governments of the two countries took a historic decision by agreeing to open the corridor to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the Sikh faith’s founder, in November this year, Singh said.
“It was good the two countries remained on track with the project deadlines, but Pakistan needs to go a step further to make the initiative truly meaningful for pilgrims, particularly the Sikh community, which has been deprived of ‘darshan’ at the Kartarpur gurdwara for over 70 years,” he said.
“The limitation of 500 pilgrims a day, as proposed by Pakistan, is insufficient to cater to the aspirations of the large number of devotees desirous of paying obeisance at the gurdwara,” Singh said, adding that curtailing the visits to a limited number of days would defeat the purpose even more.
“Pakistan’s response to India’s demands on Kartarpur corridor is totally inadequate. The corridor won’t serve its true purpose with such limitations… It needs to allow more people everyday, including from overseas,” he said in a tweet.
Singh reiterated his demand for a visa-free “khule darshan” (unhindered access) for Indians of all faiths, from India and overseas, seven days a week.
“Special permits should be good for identity and the visa requirement needs to be waived. Pakistan has to be more responsive on this issue,” he further tweeted.
Highlighting the significance of the gurdwara, the chief minister said the occasion demanded a more universal approach from Pakistan.
He urged Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to show statesmanship in the true spirit of the sportsman that he was to ensure that no devotee wanting to pay obeisance at the gurdwara is deprived of the opportunity.
“Pakistan should show much more flexibility in this regard as a mark of respect to the Sikh community,” he said.
India on Thursday had also sought to keep the corridor open for seven days a week and allow those pilgrims who want to travel on foot. It also sought allowing Indian nationals as well as persons of Indian origin to visit the shrine.