Pakistan, India decide to speed up Kartarpur Corridor opening

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 17, 2019

He said Pakistan should reciprocate to India's efforts of facilitating hassle-free visit of pilgrims to the Sikh shrine.

Pakistan while assuring visa-free corridor to the pilgrims has added a condition wherein the pilgrims will be required to furnish a special permit, defeating the basic goal of having the dedicated corridor, the sources told ANI. Adding on the lands owned by the Gurudwara, the MHA said that the Pakistan government acquired the lands and a "strident demand" was made by India for their restoration to the Gurudwara on an urgent basis.

Despite India's offer in executing long-lasting and comprehensive facilities at Indo-Pak border at the cost of Rs 190 crores, Pakistan restricted the duration of MoU on Kartarpur to two years, said MHA.

In a "cordial environment", Pakistan and India Thursday agreed to work expeditiously on opening of Kartarpur Corridor, aimed at facilitating Sikh pilgrims to visit their holy sites on both sides of the border.

Pakistan has restricted the corridor facility to only Indian Passport holders to the exclusion of large number of Overseas Citizens of India card holder devotees. India had demanded that upto 5,000 pilgrims be allowed daily, and even approved a state-of-the-art passenger terminal building to handle 5,000 pilgrims daily. Pakistan is pretending to be blind to the fact that Guru Nanak Dev holds universal appeal, including the large Indian diaspora, the official said.

While India has made a serious effort to fulfill the long-standing aspiration of the devotees and pilgrims, Pakistan has shown an insufficient and highly inadequate effort by restrictive responses to the Indian requests. Several differences - including on the number of pilgrims permitted daily, the number of days the corridor would be operational and a permit system for pilgrims - emerged during these talks.

This comes amid escalating tension between the two countries following India's preemptive air strike on a terrorist training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Pakistan's subsequent retaliation.

They agreed to hold the next meeting at Wagah on 2 April.

Both sides also held expert-level discussions between the technical experts on the alignment and other details of the proposed corridor. This will be preceded by a meeting of technical experts on March 19 at the proposed zero points to finalize the alignment, the joint statement added. India hopes that the special border crossing for pilgrims will open before Guru Nanak Dev's 550th birth anniversary in November 2019.

Two days later, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone at Narowal, 125 km from Lahore.

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