Pakistan eases rules for Indian Sikh pilgrims near border

KARTARPUR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan's prime minister has inaugurated a visa-free initiative that allows Sikh pilgrims from India to visit one of their holiest shrines.

Imran Khan opened the border corridor on Saturday as thousands of Indian pilgrims waited to visit the Kartarpur shrine.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, situated in Kartarpur in Narowal district, is the second holiest place in the Sikh faith. It lies on the Ravi River just four kilometers from Pakistan's border with India.

The arrangement allows the pilgrims to apply online for special permits to visit the shrine exclusively. Visas to travel between Pakistan and India are normally difficult to obtain.

It comes amid heightened tensions between Pakistan and India over the contested region of Kashmir, which both countries partially control but claim in its entirety.