India and Pakistan will sign the agreement on Kartarpur corridor on Thursday (October 24), the media said hours after it was reported that the signing was unlikely to take place on Wednesday.
According to a report on Hindustan Times, the signing of the pact will happen at the ‘zero line’ on the border, which means the officials of the two countries will not cross border during the event.
The agreement aims at ensuring visa-free travel for Indian pilgrims to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan through a border corridor. The first pilgrimage to the Sikh religious site was expected to be undertaken on November 9, on the auspicious occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
The corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with the gurdwara at Kartarpur, just about four kilometres from the international border, located at Shakargarh in Narowal district of Pakistans Punjab province.
The two countries had earlier fixed October 23 for the signing of the pact even though India had expressed disappointment over Pakistan’s insistence on levying a service fee of $20 (₹1,416 approx.) per pilgrim per visit.
“It is a matter of disappointment that while understanding has been reached on most of the elements for facilitating the visit of pilgrims from India, Pakistan continues to insist on levying a service fee of $20 per pilgrim per visit,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had earlier said.
While agreeing to sign the agreement, the Pakistani government was once again urged to reconsider its insistence to levy service fee on pilgrims, it had said, adding that India would be ready to amend the agreement accordingly at any time.
The move was also opposed by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who had pointed out that not every pilgrim would be able to afford the service fee.
(With inputs from agencies)