Pakistan, India near Kartarpur deal

Some technical aspects agreed upon, ‘hope to finalise remaining modalities at the earliest’


Kamran Yousaf March 19, 2019
Work in progress at the Kartarpur Corridor. PHOTO: FOREIGN OFFICE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India appeared to be moving closer to finalising an agreement on Kartarpur Corridor, as technical experts from the two sides held a crucial meeting at "Zero Point" on Tuesday.

They met to settle the technical details for the Kartarpur Corridor that would give Sikhs from India visa-free access to their holiest site inside Pakistan.

The meeting of technical experts was the follow up of maiden talks between Pakistan and India held last week at Attari to finalise the agreement on Kartarpur Corridor.

Islamabad proposes 500 permits for Kartarpur pilgrims

The meeting was held in a “positive and constructive environment”, said a statement issued by the foreign office.

Foreign office officials said both sides jointly surveyed the coordinates of the Zero Point and discussed the technical details, including finished road level, high flood level, etc. The two sides agreed on some technical aspects and expressed the hope to finalise the remaining modalities at the earliest.

The next meeting on operationalisation of the corridor will be held at Wagah ‪on April 2.

At the first meeting held on the Indian side of the border on March 14, Pakistan and India issued a rare joint statement agreeing to finalise the Kartarpur Corridor agreement at the earliest.

Kartarpur is a small town in Narowal, 4 km from the Pakistan-India border. Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, spent the last 18 years of his life here.

Subsequently, Gurdwara Darbar Sahab was built at the site on the Pakistan side and Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak in India, which are visited by thousands of Sikhs every year.

The plan to build a visa-free corridor had been there for over two decades but it only became a reality when Prime Minister Imran Khan took charge in August last year.

Kartarpur corridor: Delhi mulls over Pakistani proposals

Navjot Singh Sidhu, the former Indian cricketer who attended the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan, was informed by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa that Pakistan was planning to open the Kartarpur Corridor at the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

Prime Minister Imran then launched the groundbreaking of the corridor in November at a ceremony also attended by Sidhu and other Indian guests.

In January, Pakistan shared its draft agreement with India and proposed that the Pakistan delegation may visit India on March 14 followed by a return visit of the Indian delegation to Pakistan.

Last month, when Pakistan and India were almost on the brink of a war, there were fears that talks on the Kartarpur Corridor might not take place.

But Pakistan stuck to the planned talks, forcing India to reciprocate since Sikhs in India also wanted the corridor to be operational later this year.

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