Kartarpur Corridor: Pakistan agrees to India's proposal for technical meeting on April 16

Published April 8, 2019
We expect positivity from India so that the corridor becomes a reality for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, says spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. — DawnNewsTV/File
We expect positivity from India so that the corridor becomes a reality for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, says spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. — DawnNewsTV/File

Pakistan on Monday agreed to India's proposal for a meeting between technical experts from both sides on the Kartarpur Corridor on April 16.

Dr Mohammad Faisal, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, announced the development via Twitter.

"Continuing with Pakistan’s spirit of constructive engagement, we have agreed to the Indian proposal for a technical meeting on 16 April," he said. "We expect positivity from India so that the corridor becomes [a] reality for 550th [birth anniversary of Guru Nanak] celebrations."

The development comes after India postponed a Kartarpur meeting which was to be held on April 2 on the Pakistani side.

While announcing its decision to postpone the meeting, New Delhi had said it had "sought clarifications from Pakistan on key proposals put forward by India at the last meeting held in Attari to discuss the modalities of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor".

The statement by the Indian ministry had added that "the next meeting on the modalities can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving Pakistan’s response".

India had also proposed in its statement that the infrastructure development for the corridor should go forward and "in an expeditious manner."

Pakistan, in a statement, had regretted India's decision, saying: "Last minute postponement without seeking views from Pakistan and especially after the productive technical meeting on March 19 is incomprehensible."

Kartarpur Corridor negotiations

The Kartarpur Corridor is expected 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.

The corridor is planned to be opened for Sikh pilgrims this year in commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. The groundbreaking of the project on the Pakistani side was performed by Prime Minister Imran Khan at Kartarpur Sahib on Nov 28, 2018.

In January, Pakistan had shared its draft of Kartarpur Corridor Accord with India and invited its delegation for a visit to negotiate the document.

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 negatively to the position taken by India in response to its original suggestion, vowed to “take the process forward”.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed its commitment to continuing negotiations on the proposed Kartarpur Corridor agreement and announced that the two neighbouring countries would exchange visits by their respective delegations.

The announcement came amidst an escalation of tension between the two sides with the Indian Air Force (IAF) violating Pakistani airspace following the Feb 14 attack targeting Indian security forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir's Pulwama area. Two intruding IAF jets were later downed by Pakistan and a pilot was captured only to be released as a unilateral goodwill gesture.

On March 14, officials from Pakistan and India agreed to expedite work to operationalise the Kartarpur Corridor after talks on the matter concluded on a cordial note in Attari, India.

Delegations of Pakistani and Indian technical experts met on March 19 at the proposed zero points to discuss and finalise the development of the Kartarpur Corridor. It was decided after this meeting that both sides will present surveys and maps for border fencing and developmental work on the Dera Baba Nanak-Kartarpur Sahib corridor to their respective governments.

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