ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is awaiting an official response from India over the Islamabad’s proposal to reopen the Kartarpur corridor for the Sikh pilgrims.

Over the weekend, Pakistan said it was ready to reopen the Kartarpur Corridor for Sikh pilgrims from today (June 29), three months after the corridor was closed as a precautionary measure to check the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the decision was taken on the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the founder of the Sikh empire in the early 19th century.

“As places of worship open up across the world, Pakistan prepares to reopen the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor for all Sikh pilgrims, conveying to the Indian side our readiness to reopen the corridor on 29 June, 2020, the occasion of the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh,” Qureshi had said.

Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui told The Nation that India had not yet responded officially to Pakistan and any progress could be made only after a formal communication. “We respect the minorities and had given a proposal. We are facing the coronavirus situation so there has to be a discussion on the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) as huge groups cannot be allowed due to the pandemic risks,” she said.

Aisha Farooqui said that there will be mutual decisions on how many people should be allowed to visit and other formalities. Let’s see when they (India) respond,” she added.

Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Satwant Singh said that the PSGPC and Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) had made all arrangements to host Indian pilgrims at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur, in the wake of the reopening of the corridor. “We are ready to welcome pilgrims and all precautions will be taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

In a Facebook post, PM Khan had said: “Pakistan is all set to open its doors for Sikhs from all across the globe, as the construction work on Kartarpur project enters final stages and will be open to public on November 9, 2019.” His statement cleared the air on whether the corridor will be open on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of the Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev next on November 12.

The world’s largest gurdwara will be visited by Sikhs from across India and other parts of the World. This will become a major religious hub for the Sikh community, and will boost the local economy, result in earning foreign exchange for the country creating jobs in different sectors including travel and hospitality,” Imran Khan said.