Navjot Sidhu gets Pakistan visa, MEA clearance for Kartarpur visit

In a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Sidhu said that he had been invited by the Pakistan government for opening ceremony of Kartarpur Sahib corridor on November 9. Photo: PTI File.

The Indian government on Thursday (November 7) permitted Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu to take part in the opening ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan on Saturday. The former cricketer was invited by his contemporary and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to attend the event.

Political clearance has been granted to Sidhu to travel through the Kartarpur Sahib corridor on November 9, PTI said quoting sources. This comes after he sent a third letter to the Ministry of External Affairs requesting permission to attend the opening ceremony, another report said.

Also read | India will stick to Kartarpur agreement on visits by Indian pilgrims: MEA

Meanwhile, Pakistan on Thursday has issued a visa to cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend the inauguration of the much-awaited Kartarpur Corridor on November 9. “Pakistan has issued visa to Indian politician Navjot Singh Sidhu for his visit to holy shrine of Baba Guru Nanak,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal announced during his weekly media briefing here.

Sidhu, a Congress lawmaker and former Punjab minister, has sought permission from the External Affairs Ministry to attend the inaugural ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan on November 9.

Also read | Indian Sikh pilgrims will require passport to visit Kartarpur: Pak Army

He had come under fire from the opposition after he hugged Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan in August last year. Sidhu had then claimed that Gen Bajwa had told him about “making efforts to open the Kartarpur Corridor”.

The Kartarpur Corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Indias Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, just 4 kilometres from the International Border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Also read | India asks Pakistan to clarify passport requirement for Kartarpur visit

Not withstanding a chill in bilateral ties over Kashmir, Pakistan and India after tough negotiations signed a landmark agreement last week to operationalise the corridor to allow Indian pilgrims to visit the holy Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.

The two countries decided that 5,000 pilgrims can visit the shrine daily. India and Pakistan have also decided that the corridor will be operational through the year and seven days a week and that pilgrims, except kids and elderly persons, will have a choice to visit it as individuals or in groups.

(With inputs from agencies)