ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to expeditious completion of Kartarpur Corridor as it accepted an Indian proposal for a second bilateral meeting on the modalities for the functioning of visa-free passage in the second week of July.
“Pakistan, today, conveyed to India that the second meeting to discuss the draft agreement for finalising the modalities of Kartarpur Corridor and related technical issues will be held on 14th July, 2019 at Wagah,” said a Foreign Office (FO) statement.
India had earlier pulled out of the second bilateral meeting scheduled for April 2 after the two sides had met at Attari on March 14.
The FO said the Indian side was asked to share the composition of its delegation visiting Wagah on July 14.
FO asks New Delhi to share composition of its delegation visiting Wagah
Just last Saturday a report published by Hindustan Times said New Delhi had proposed to Pakistan that the second meeting of the officials for finalising the modalities of the opening of the corridor be held between July 11 and 14 at Wagah on the Pakistani side of the border.
The corridor, a peace initiative of Pakistani government, is being constructed to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November this year. The corridor will provide Indian Sikhs visa-free access to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan.
To work out modalities for the opening of Kartarpur opening, a Pakistani delegation visited Attari where a meeting was held with Indian officials on March 14. While the next round of talks was scheduled for April 2 at Wagah, India pulled out of it over reservations that pro-Khalistan activists such as Gopal Chawla and Bisan Singh had been included in Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee — a body that works for facilitating Sikh pilgrims.
The Indian Ministry for External Affairs on that occasion had stated: “The next meeting on the modalities can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving Pakistan’s response.” Pakistan’s FO had then regretted the Indian decision to cancel the meeting.
The statement announcing that the talks had been again scheduled for July 14 said: “Pakistan remains committed to expedite progress on the matter to ensure that the Corridor is operationalised in time for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak in November 2019.”
India has on multiple occasions insisted that its meetings on Kartarpur corridor should not be seen as resumption of engagement between the two sides.
Three rounds of technical-level talks have been held so far between the two sides on the corridor’s alignment, crossing point and infrastructure.
Published in Dawn, July 3rd , 2019