By Muhammad Luqman
Pakistan and India have agreed to resume dialogue on Kartarpur Corridor to finalize the modalities for providing visa-free access to the Indian Sikhs to a Gurdwara Darbar Sahib on Pakistani side , just few kilometres from the International border.
According to a statement of released by Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) on Tuesday, the second meeting to discuss the draft agreement for finalising the modalities of Kartarpur Corridor and related technical issues will be held on July 14 at Pakistani side of Wagah Border.
Pakistan has also requested India to convey the composition of its delegation.
FO further stated that Pakistan remains committed to expedited progress on the matter to ensure that the Corridor is operationalised in time for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak in November this year.
On June 30, India had proposed to hold talks with Pakistani officials on Kartarpur Corridor between July 11 and 14 on the Pakistani side of Wagah Border to take the project further, with the aim of completing it by November ahead of the birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.
According to the plan proposed by India, both sides would discuss a draft agreement pertaining to issues related to the project’s infrastructure and alignment and the facilitating the movement of Sikh yatrees.
The development followed nearly three months of silence which was preceded by India’s decision to postpone the talks scheduled for April 2.
Pakistan, in a statement, had regretted India’s decision, saying: “Last minute postponement without seeking views from Pakistan and especially after the productive technical meeting on March 19 is incomprehensible.”
The corridor is planned to be opened for Sikh pilgrims this year in commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
The groundbreaking ceremony of the corridor in Pakistan was performed last year on November 28. In January, Pakistan had shared its draft of Kartarpur Corridor Accord with India and invited its delegation for a visit for negotiating the document, which would govern operations of the corridor meant to provide visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims to the Gurdwara in Kartarpur Sahib (Narowal district).
In January, Pakistan shared its draft of Kartarpur Corridor Accord with India and invited its delegation for a visit for negotiating the document.
India, however, instead of accepting the proposal on that occasion, insisted on hosting the meeting and asked Pakistani officials to visit Delhi either on Feb 26 or March 7. Although the counter-proposals from Islamabad and Delhi had given the impression of a sort of standoff on the issue, Islamabad had, instead of reacting to the position taken by India in response to its original suggestion, vowed to “take the process forward”.
By Muhammad Luqman