The Kartarpur Corridor is another initiative that saner elements on either side of the divide believe would ultimately help both Pakistan and India to move on to the path of peace through negotiated settlements of all outstanding issues. But given the past history of mistrust between the two nations, much still doubt if peace could that easily be realised.
On Monday, the Government of Pakistan officially invited New Delhi to formalise modalities to complete work on the Kartarpur Corridor before November 2019. A statement issued by the Pakistan’s Foreign Office in this regard said, “In line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment to open Kartarpur Corridor on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November 2019, the Government of Pakistan has shared the draft agreement between Pakistan and India for facilitation of Sikh yatrees to visit the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Narowal, through the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.”
The Modi government — which is already embroiled in a host of domestic issues, especially ahead of the May 2019 general elections in the country — in fact failed to respond to Pakistan’s initiative in a befitting manner, diplomatically speaking. On Tuesday, a statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that New Delhi had shared with Islamabad ‘coordinates’ of the crossing point of the Kartarpur Corridor and suggested February 26 and March 7, 2019 as the two dates for a Pakistani delegation to visit the Indian capital to work out and decide other details of the agreement to make the corridor operational.
In fact, there are very few issues relating to the Kartarpur Corridor that need to be settled between Pakistan and India and these include agreement over exact point of crossing for the pilgrims, security procedures, issuance of identity cards for the pilgrims and the opening and closing times for the corridor. However, we should expect such dilly-dallying by India where the ruling party, which now fears the erosion of its nationalist and communal appeal and is to fight a battle for its survival, is preparing for the May 2019 general elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2019.
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