Pakistan to open border crossing for India Sikhs in November

AP , Monday 16 Sep 2019

Pakistani officials said Monday that a much-awaited visa-free border crossing for Sikh pilgrims from India will be ready by early November, allowing thousands of pilgrims to easily visit a Sikh shrine just inside Pakistan each day.

The Pakistani project director, Atif Majid, told reporters at the shrine that all arrangements will be in place before Nov. 9, a rare sign of cooperation between Islamabad and New Delhi amid heightened tensions over the Kashmir region.

Instead of visas, the Sikh pilgrims will be given special permits to access the shrine.

Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, settled in what is now Pakistan's Kartarpur. The shrine, known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, was built after he died in the 16th century.

Many Sikh holy sites were left in Pakistan after the British partitioned the subcontinent into separate nations in 1947 following two centuries of colonial rule.

The shrine is visible from the Indian side of the border, and Sikhs often gather on bluffs to view the site from the Indian side. The religious group makes up only a tiny minority in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

Pakistani and Indian officials had met earlier this month near the Pakistani border town of Lahore to finalize a draft agreement on the crossing.

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