Ahead of the celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has written a letter to the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar seeking permission to travel to Pakistan.
Sidhu was invited by Pakistan government to attend the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9.
In his letter to the MEA, Sidhu wrote, “As a humble Sikh, it shall be a great honour to pay obeisance to our great Guru Baba Nanak on this historic occasion and connect to our roots.”
The Centre has stayed firm on providing permission to only those part of India’s official delegation to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib through the Kartarpur Corridor.
Those not part of India’s official delegation to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib through the Kartarpur Corridor will have to take political clearance as per the normal procedure, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday amidst reports of Pakistan inviting cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu for an inaugural event of the corridor.
India’s jatha, whose list the country has shared with Pakistan, includes personalities from different sides of the political spectrum, including Union ministers those from the Punjab government, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing.
“Those whom Pakistan wants to invite and who want to go in future, they have to take the normal political clearance as is required for a visit to a foreign country. The due process that is applicable needs to be followed,” he said.
As per the normal procedure, a political visit needs clearance from the government.
Pakistan has reportedly invited Sidhu to attend the inaugural ceremony of the landmark Kartarpur Corridor, which will be opened for pilgrims on November 9.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Amrinder Singh and Union minister Hardeep Puri are among the 575 people who will be part of the inaugural jatha to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan through the Kartarpur Corridor, central government sources had said.
India and Pakistan last week signed the agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor that will allow Indian pilgrims to undertake visa-free visit to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the shrine of the Sikh religion’s founder Guru Nanak Dev in Pakistan, notwithstanding a chill in bilateral ties over Kashmir.
The agreement will allow 5,000 Indian pilgrims daily to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib where Guru Nanak spent last 18 years of his life.
On the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Faisal Javed contacted Sidhu and extended the invitation for the opening ceremony, The Express Tribune reported.
In August last year, Sidhu attended the oath-taking ceremony of Prime Minister Khan.
The corridor will connect the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, just 4 kilometres from the International Border, located at Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
India and Pakistan signed the agreement after three rounds of tough negotiations despite bilateral relationship witnessing a chill recent years. The ties touched a new low when India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August following which Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian envoy.
Indian pilgrims of all faiths and persons of Indian origin can use the corridor and the travel will be visa-free. Each visitor would be required to pay USD 20 as fee, though India has requested Pakistan not to charge the Indian pilgrims.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to formally inaugurate the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9, ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on November 12.