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Pakistan, India Ink Deal On Visa-Free Access To Sikh Shrine

Indian Sikh pilgrims visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the shrine of spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev, in Kartarpur, Pakistan.

In a rare moment of cooperation between Pakistan and India, the two nuclear-armed rivals have signed an agreement allowing Sikh pilgrims to visit one of their holiest shrines without a visa.

"Today is a day of celebration," Mohammad Faisal of Pakistan's Foreign Ministry told the October 24 signing ceremony at a border point between the two countries' regions called Punjab.

Under the agreement, Sikh pilgrims from India will be allowed to travel to the shrine in the Pakistani town of Kartarpur seven days a week through a corridor built on both sides of the border.

Each visitor will have to pay a $20 service charge to Pakistan.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to formally inaugurate the corridor on November 9.

The project has survived a flareup in tensions between the neighbors after New Delhi revoked the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir in August.

The shrine to Guru Nanak, the 15th-century founder of Sikhism, is located 4 kilometers from the Indian border.

Pakistan used to be home to a large Sikh community, but most of its members went to India during the 1947 partition, with only a few thousand remaining in Pakistan.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, Reuters , and AFP