New Delhi: Pakistan on Wednesday allowed officials from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to visit the Kartarpur corridor and assess the security requirements in view of the likely arrival of VIP pilgrims from India, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for the November 9 inauguration.
“Today (Wednesday) Pakistan allowed Indian High Commission officials to visit the corridor for the first time,” sources said here.
India had been requesting Pakistan to allow an advance team to visit the corridor to understand the requirements that visitors from India would have, including from the security point of view.
Since top officials, including many on the government protectee list, like Manmohan Singh, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Ministers, will be visiting the corridor on November 9, the Indian government is law-bound to protect them.
“We had sought clarity and coordination from Pakistan to view the arrangements on their side. We have asked Pakistan to ensure that pilgrims and dignitaries from our side are not left in the lurch,” sources said.
In view of the heightened security alert due to likely presence of Sikh separatists from Babbar Khalsa, Khalistan Liberation Front and other groups in Pakistan, India has conveyed that it doesn’t want the pilgrims to be harassed while on the pilgrimage.
Pakistan has assured India on this count, sources added.
India has forwarded a list of 550 pilgrims who would go for the inauguration, but Pakistan is yet to get back, though the inauguration is just two days away.
“We gave them the list 10 days ago. We are awaiting their final list to see if there are any changes (by Pakistan),” sources said.
Besides Manmohan Singh and Amarinder Singh, the 550-pilgrim list in the first jatha included Union Ministers Harsimrat Singh and Hardeep Puri, many MPs, MLAs, Ministers and prominent Indians, including from abroad.
Though Islamabad had initially insisted on passport to use the corridor, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan later tweeted that passport would not be required. However, India has asked Islamabad for clarification on the issue.
As per the Kartarpur agreement, signed between the two sides, a passport is required, and India has decided to stick to it. Thus, Indian pilgrims holding Indian passport or OCI cards would be allowed to visit Kartarpur from India, sources said.
India has also not got the list of events from Pakistan to be organised as part of the inauguration, though Islamabad had said it wanted Indian pilgrims to participate in the events.
“We have not got the programme from Pakistan on what is planned on their side. We hope for more clarity on the public functions and management after pilgrims go across the border,” sources said.