Former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was on Thursday granted political clearance to travel to Pakistan to participate in the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor, people familiar with development said.
Sidhu, who raised the issue of opening a corridor for Indian pilgrims to visit Durbar Sahib gurdwara at Kartarpur during the swearing-in of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan last year, has been invited to the opening of the Pakistani section of the corridor on November 9.
The people cited above said the cricketer-turned-politician had been granted political clearance to travel through the Kartarpur Corridor on Saturday.
Authorities had earlier said that dignitaries subject to obtaining political clearance for foreign travel wouldn’t need such clearance if they travelled to the gurdwara as ordinary pilgrims through the cross-border corridor on November 9.
However, Sidhu had reportedly failed to register with the inaugural ‘jatha’ or batch of pilgrims and had instead sought to travel with a visa, people familiar with developments said.
The political clearance was granted after Sidhu sought permission from the external affairs ministry three times – on Saturday, Wednesday and Thursday – to attend the inaugural ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan.
In his latest letter to external affairs minister S Jaishankar, Sidhu said he had not received a response on whether he had been granted permission to go to Pakistan despite repeated reminders. He added that as a “law-abiding citizen”, he preferred to visit Pakistan with the Central government’s approval.
But he also said that if the external affairs ministry didn’t respond to his letter, he would go to Pakistan like any other Sikh devotee on an “eligible visa”.