Kartarpur corridor talks with India on track

Foreign Offices says Islamabad may exercise option to close airspace for India anytime of its choosing

Asif Mehmood August 29, 2019

LAHORE: The Foreign Office has said despite India's August 5 move to strip occupied Kashmir of its special status, Islamabad would continue the process of opening of Kartarpur Corridor and in this regard a meeting between Pakistani and Indian officials will be held on August 30 (today).

"India has concurred to Pakistan's proposal of holding the next technical meeting on the corridor on August 30 (today) at the Zero Point designated area of the border," said the Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal at a weekly press briefing on Thursday.

"Pakistan remains committed to complete and inaugurate its side of the Kartarpur Corridor as planned and announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan," the spokesperson added.

Kartarpur Corridor is being built between Indian and Pakistan to allow Sikh pilgrims visit one of their holiest sites, Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, associated with the founder of Sikh religion, Baba Guru Nanak Devji. The Gurdwara is located inside Pakistan in Punjab's Narowal district.

To a question about the possible closure of air space for India, the spokesman said the issue is discussed at the highest level and is one of the many options being considered. "We can exercise it at the time of our choosing. However, no final decision in this regard has been taken so far," he added.

Pakistan on Tuesday hinted at closing down its airspace for India as a reaction to New Delhi's move on Kashmir which is facing the worst Indian clampdown since August 4, a day prior to annulment of Article 370-A of Indian Constitution that gave special status of the disputed Himalayan valley.

When asked if invoking the jurisdiction of International Court of Justice was still on the cards to challenge India's move, he said it is a 'delicate issue', for which consultations are underway with all stakeholders.

The spokesman said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi would visit Geneva next month to attend the meeting of the Human Rights Council to highlight the issue of Kashmir.

"Former foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua has already reached Geneva as special envoy to prepare for an extensive outreach to international community on the Kashmir dispute," he added.

On Pakistan's stance on the current legal status of Kashmir, the spokesman said Pakistan still regards Kashmir "a disputed territory".

"We are very much clear. However, the hypocrisy and confusion is evident on the Indian side that shifts its stance frequently by sometimes calling it a bilateral matter and the other time an internal matter."

He said the position India has taken regarding the August 5 move is not tenable and Pakistan believes that implementation of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions is the only option. "The resolution of Kashmir dispute rests with the UNSC resolutions only, no matter how long the struggle continues."

On providing consular access to convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, he said "Pakistan is actively in touch with the Indian government on this matter".

The spokesman said Pakistan has given freedom to UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to monitor its side. However, he said, India has restricted the body's movement to cover the human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.

Speaking with reference to ongoing talks between the US and the Taliban in Qatar, he said Pakistan is making sincere efforts to facilitate Afghan peace process.

"The peace agreement between the stakeholders is in final phase and Pakistan hopes early conclusion leading to peace and stability in Afghanistan," he added.



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