Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Friday that his country will soon open the Kartarpur border crossing with India for Sikh pilgrims to visit a historic gurdwara there without visas, PTI reported quoting BBC Urdu.
In an interview to BBC Urdu, the Pakistani minister said that a system was being developed for Sikhs to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, adding “soon some forward movement is expected”.
“Pakistan will soon open the border at Kartarpur for Sikh pilgrims and the pilgrims will be able to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur without visas,” Fawad Chaudhry said.
Kartarpur based gurdwara is revered by Sikhs due to the belief that the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak died there.
It is located in Narowal district of Punjab province near the Indian border.
The first indication of opening the crossing was given by Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa when he met Congress politician Navjot Singh Sidhu in Islamabad during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Watch: Pakistan to open Kartarpur border crossing with India for Sikh pilgrims
The Kartarpur gurdwara is located in Narowal district of Punjab province near the Indian border and is revered by Sikhs due to the belief that the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak died there.
The Pakistan Army and the government were on the same page on the issue of peace talks with India but so far the Indian government has not given any positive signals on the issue, Chaudhry said.
He said Prime Minister Khan sent positive signals to India after winning the election, including inviting former Indian cricketers for his swearing-in ceremony and offer for talks in his first speech.
To a question about the difference between policies of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and previous governments towards India, he said the main difference is that all institutions are on the same page and have the same thinking.
“It is not Imran Khan’s foreign policy like Nawaz Sharif’s foreign policy, it is Pakistan’s foreign policy,” he said.
Welcoming Fawad Chaudhry’s remarks, Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu thanked Pakistani premier Imran Khan for this goodwill gesture.
“I thank my friend Imran Khan for this noble goodwill gesture. He has not walked two steps but miles and opened the doors for infinite possibilities. I am indebted forever,” he said.
The minister had faced flak after he returned home last month from the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad, where he was seen hugging Bajwa.
Sidhu said that this was a signal from the neighbouring nation, and appealed to the Centre to reciprocate.
“Pakistan has sent a message of friendship,” he said.
“Following the path of peace is the only way to resolve issues. Talks can bring prosperity to the region,” he said.
“India should see this as a goodwill gesture. The desperation for a dialogue is visible from the Pakistan side,” he said.
Defending his hug with Bajwa, Sidhu had said last month that he was overwhelmed when told that Pakistan was making efforts to allow access to Kartarpur Sahib.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had expressed unhappiness over his minister hugging the Pakistan Army chief, but backed his push for opening the Kartarpur Sahib corridor.
Since there was no official offer from Pakistan side, the Indian government did not come up with any reaction on this. However, the Indian government, according to sources, has expressed readiness to welcome any such offer from Pakistan.
(With agency inputs)