Pakistani, Indian officials agree to present survey reports to governments for Kartarpur corridor development

Published March 19, 2019
The groundbreaking of the Kartarpur Corridor project on the Pakistani side was performed by Prime Minister Imran Khan at Kartarpur Sahib on Nov 28, 2018. ─ AFP/File
The groundbreaking of the Kartarpur Corridor project on the Pakistani side was performed by Prime Minister Imran Khan at Kartarpur Sahib on Nov 28, 2018. ─ AFP/File

Technical experts from India and Pakistan met on Tuesday at the proposed zero points to discuss and finalise the development of the Kartarpur Corridor, which is to be opened to Sikh pilgrims this year to commemorate Baba Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary, a statement by the Foreign Office said.

During talks held in Attari on March 14, it had been decided that technical experts from both sides would hold further discussions on March 19. In connection with the same, a meeting was held today in Indian Punjab's Dera Baba Nanak town which was attended by engineers and various technical experts from both sides.

According to the statement, the meeting was held "in a positive and constructive environment" during which both countries agreed upon presenting surveys and maps for border fencing and developmental work on the Dera Baba Nanak-Kartarpur Sahib corridor to their respective governments.

"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/details and expressed the hope to finalise the other modalities at the earliest," read the statement.

After a review of the survey reports, crossing points for the corridor will be decided and the next round of discussions will then take place at Wagah on April 2.

On the Indian side, Dera Baba Nanak has been declared the zero point which will be considered an international border. Work is underway for the construction of the zero point on 50 acres of land.

The groundbreaking of the project on the Pakistani side was performed by Prime Minister Imran Khan at Kartarpur Sahib on Nov 28, 2018.

After a bit of wrangling over the venue of talks on the Kartarpur Corridor Accord, Pakistan and India had agreed in principle in February on reciprocal visits of officials for negotiating and finalising the agreement, with a Pakistani delegation travelling to Delhi on March 14 for initiating the process, and India reciprocating with a visit to Pakistan at Wagah border on April 2.

In January, Pakistan had shared its draft of Kartarpur Corridor Accord with India and invited its delegation for a visit for negotiating the document, which would govern operations of the corridor meant to provide visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims to the gurdwara.

India, however, instead of accepting the proposal on that occasion, insisted on hosting the meeting and asked Pakistani officials to visit Delhi either on Feb 26 or March 7. Although the counter-proposals from Islamabad and Delhi had given the impression of a sort of standoff on the issue, Islamabad had, instead of reacting to the position taken by India in response to its original suggestion, vowed to “take the process forward”.

In addition to the official-level talks, India had also proposed technical discussions on the corridor.

On March 14, a Pakistani delegation crossed over to India at Wagah to negotiate the mechanisms that will govern the operations of the Kartarpur Corridor.

At the meeting held between Pakistan and India at Amritsar's Attari Complex, the two sides had agreed to speed up work towards the opening of Kartarpur Corridor to facilitate Sikh pilgrims in visiting their holy sites on both sides of the border.

The hope is to provide visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims to the Gurdwara in Kartarpur Sahib — a small town in Narowal, 4 kilometres from the Pakistan-India border, where Sikhism founder Baba Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life.

China welcomes Kartarpur meeting

China has welcomed the meeting between Pakistani and Indian officials to finalise modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor, Radio Pakistan reported.

During a press briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang expressed hope that progress on the matter would help to further ease tensions between India and Pakistan and improve the regional situation.

Geng urged both sides to continue to demonstrate goodwill to settle differences through dialogue and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability.

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