ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced that Pakistan has completed all preparations for the opening of Kartarpur Corridor and is ready to welcome Sikh pilgrims for Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary.

In a message on Twitter, the Prime Minister congratulated his government for finishing the task in record time. “I want to congratulate our govt for readying Kartarpur, in record time, for Guru Nanak jee’s 550th birthday celebrations. Kartarpur ready to welcome Sikh pilgrims,” the prime minister said on his Twitter handle.

The prime minister also shared multiple images of the fully illuminated building of the complex including the courtyard, road, and checking counters.

Later, the prime minister also chaired a meeting to review the arrangements made for the inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor and facilitation of the Sikh pilgrims coming from India and across the world.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri, Interior Minister Brig (retd) Ijaz Ahmed Shah, federal secretaries of ministries of foreign affairs, interior, defence and religious affairs besides special secretary finance and other senior officers.

Lauds timely completion of the project

The prime minister expressed his satisfaction over the facilities for the Sikh pilgrims and other arrangements.

Likely to be inaugurated on November 9, the Kartarpur Corridor would make Pakistan a religious hub for Sikhs from India as well as across the globe.

The Corridor will provide visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib - the final resting place of Baba Guru Nanak.

According to Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), the first phase of the Corridor comprised the construction of main corridor up to zero point, main offices at zero point, basic polishing of existing building of Gurdwara, Baradari, Langar Hall, Angetha Sahib, Sarowar, administrative block and parking area. The second phase would include accommodation for about 10,000 Yatrees, five and seven stars hotels and shopping malls.

Earlier this week, PM Imran waived off two requirements for Sikh pilgrims travelling to Pakistan, allowing them to enter the country without a passport.

“They will be able to travel with a valid identity card,” the PM said in a tweet on Friday last.

Sikh pilgrims will also no longer have to register 10 days in advance, while the PM also announced a waiver on fees for the inauguration day and the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on November 12.

The upgraded and renovated Gurdwara of Darbar Sahib Kartarpur will be formally launched on November 9 on the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

The landmark project was initiated on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan as a peace-building measure for the region. The entire project is funded and executed by the Government of Pakistan as a gift to Sikh community.

According to MoU signed by Pakistan and Indian officials, the project will be executed in phases.

In Phase I, the building has been established along with the bridge, terminal and other infrastructure. In phase II, the building will be expanded and hotels and apartments will be built to accommodate more and more visitors. Commercial areas will also be established to facilitate the pilgrims.

Under Kartarpur Corridor, 800 acres of land has been allocated for the project, of which 104 acres is currently used for the main building and its courtyard while 36 acres of land has been reserved for plantation.

Rest of the area will be used for construction of bridge, terminals and pavements.

Previously, the Gurdwara was stretched on merely four acres of land.

The visit of yatris will be visa-free and Indian Sikh pilgrims will no longer be required to bring their passport and only a valid identity card will be needed for entering Pakistan.

The Indian yatris will be received at border from where they will be taken to terminal for biometric registration, and then to the Gurdwara on buses.

An additional dewan has been built for those yatris who wish to offer their prayers in case if the main Gurdwara runs out of space to accommodate the worshipers.

Moreover, for the learning purpose, a library and a museum have also been built which will possess the historical valuables.

A langar khana has also been established which has the capacity to feed 2 to 2.5 thousand visitors at a time.

As a goodwill gesture, the langar khana will provide free food for 10 initial days.

The Sikh community around the globe has responded positively to the opening of Kartarpur Corridor.

Initially, 500 yatris per day were expected from India. However, the number has risen to more than 5000 even before the launch of the corridor as more and more visitors have expressed their desire to visit their place of worship.