Washington, July 17: Appreciating the step taken by Pakistan with regard to the religious sentiments, United States welcomed the move facilitating visa-free visit to Indian pilgrims to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib by Pakistan. The two neighbouring countries on July 14 collectively came to the decision in what was termed as a positive signal for India, Pakistan agreed on providing visa free entry to pilgrims in Kartarpur Corridor.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, US State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said that it supports any initiative that bolsters the ties between India and Pakistan, which worsened after the Pulwama terror attack in February. She said, “We encourage it. Anything that increases people-to-people ties between India and Pakistan is something that we are incredibly supportive of.”
India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads since the Balakot air strikes which were carried out by the Indian Air Force in February targetting terror camps in the neighbouring country. The air strikes were conducted in retaliation to the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed after a Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into the bus they were travelling in.
However, the two countries are committed to constructing the Kartarpur Corridor, despite ongoing tensions. Kartarpur Corridor is a religious passage which is jointly being constructed by India and Pakistan from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to International Border to facilitate smooth and visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan's Kartarpur.
Earlier this week, Indian and Pakistan held the second round of meeting at Wagah in Pakistan to discuss the modalities of the Kartarpur Corridor. During the meeting, India requested Pakistan to allow 5,000 pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor. It also asked the neighbouring country to allow 10,000 additional pilgrims on special occasions.