Pakistan speaks in two voices on permit
Pakistan’s military and civilian establishment on Thursday spoke in conflicting voices on the travel documents required for the Kartarpur pilgrimage, eventually accusing India of creating confusion after New Delhi said it would go by the written agreement.
In the morning, the director-general of the inter-services public relations — the publicity arm of Pakistan’s armed forces — said the pilgrims must carry a permit or a passport-based identification document to be able to use the Kartarpur Corridor.
Hours later, at the weekly briefing, Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal reaffirmed the unilateral waivers Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced in a tweet on November 1 for the pilgrimages on Saturday — when the corridor would be inaugurated — and on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on November 12.
Faisal announced that Sikh pilgrims would neither need a passport nor have to register 10 days in advance as mandated in the agreement. He also announced the waiver of the $20 fee for these two days.
Asked how India would proceed given the conflicting statements coming out of Islamabad at the eleventh hour, foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “There is a bilateral document which clearly specifies the requirements for the pilgrimage, and it cannot be amended unilaterally. We will be going by the requirements specified in the memorandum of understanding.’’
A few hours later, Faisal accused India of creating confusion and of refusing the special gesture made by Islamabad.
“As a special gesture, #Pakistan announced concessions on the auspicious occasion of 550th Birth Anniversary of #BabaGuruNanak to facilitate pilgrims. This has been REFUSED by #India in blatant disregard of Sikh sentiments. If India does not wish to avail these facilitative measures for pilgrims, it is India’s choice. India is creating confusion to confuse,’’ Faisal tweeted.