INDIA AND PAKISTAN SIGN KARTARPUR CORRIDOR PACT




Irem UZUN -TDO- Pakistan and India formally signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday for Kartarpur corridor providing visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims into Pakistan. The Kartarpur corridor is designed to connect the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in India's Punjab region to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, a small town located 125 km northwest of Pakistani city of Lahore.

Pakistani foreign ministry official Muhammad Faisal and Indian home affairs official Subhas Das signed the agreement at the border close to the shrine at Kartarpur, located in the eastern Pakistani district of Narowal. "You can call this [agreement] baby steps," said Faisal after the signing, referring to the possibility of the nuclear-armed rivals resuming talks after a spike in tensions following India's revocation of special constitutional status for the Indian- administered portion of the disputed region of Kashmir in August. "We have just begun to walk, we have taken a few steps. [Hopefully] we will walk faster and run as well, but right now we have just taken a few steps. Let us take them and then we will see," he said.

The corridor will link the Sri Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, the last resting place of the founder of Sikhism, with the Indian town of Dera Baba Nanak, about 6km (4 miles) away across the border. Up to 5,000 pilgrims, who will have to register in advance with Pakistani and Indian authorities, will be able to use the corridor every day to visit the Gurdwara - a Sikh place of worship - in Pakistan without the need for a visa, according to the agreement.