South Asia: Pakistan, India agree to expedite work on Kartarpur corridor

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By Muhammad Luqman

Pakistan and India have agreed to work expeditiously to complete operationalisation of the Kartarpur corridor after both sides held a meeting at Indian border town of Attari on Thursday.
The talks, according to Pakistan’s foreign office, were aimed at finalizing the modalities for the opening of the corridor between Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal district and Dera Baba Nanak town in Indian district of Gurudaspur before the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism in November this year.
Both sides held detailed and constructive discussions on various aspects and provisions of the proposed agreement on the visa-free corridor, reaching a significant understanding on most issues, barring a few technicalities.
Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal, who led the 14-member Pakistani delegation, told media on return from India that the meeting was held in a very cordial environment.
He termed the meeting itself an achievement, noting that the two countries had issued a joint statement after a gap of four . He recalled that the two countries had last agreed on a joint statement in 2015.
Reading out the joint statement, Dr. Faisal said, “Both sides held detailed and constructive discussions on various aspects and provisions of the proposed agreement and agreed to work towards expeditiously operationalising the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.”
“Both sides also held expert-level discussions between technical experts on the alignment and other details of the proposed corridor,” he said.
He added that the two sides have also agreed to hold the next meeting at Pakistani border town of Wagah on April 2, which will be preceded by a meeting of technical experts on March 19, 2019 at zero points on border near Kartarpur to finalise the alignment of the corridor.
Talking to media at Wagah before crossing over to Attari, the FO spokesman said the decision to hold the meeting with the Indian side was in line with Pakistan’s sincere efforts to de-escalate the situation for regional peace and stability.
He expressed hope that the initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan would not only facilitate Sikhs pilgrims especially from India, but in the current vitiated situation it could be a step forward in a right direction from conflict to cooperation, animosity to peace, and enmity to friendship.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan’s desire of opening the Kartarpur Corridor is being acknowledged and appreciated by the world community.
In an interview with Radio Pakistan, he said Islamabad wants to set modalities with New-Delhi with regard to the Kartarpur Corridor.
He said that the ruling political party in India is resorting to war frenzy just for the sake of gaining popularity in order to win the upcoming elections there.
He said Pakistan has nothing to do with the Pulwama incident and its reality has been exposed before the international community.
The Foreign Minister said Pakistan will remain cautious as the enemy is very clever and can betray at any time.

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