The development was made public by Dr Mohammad Faisal, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, via Twitter.
Continuing with #Pakistan’s spirit of constructive engagement, we have agreed to the Indian proposal for a technical meeting on 16 April. We expect positivity from #India so that the corridor becomes reality for 550th celebrations. #PakistanKartarpurSpirit
— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@ForeignOfficePk) April 8, 2019
“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.
Last month, both countries held a meeting of technical experts during which the corridor’s alignment, coordinates, and other engineering aspects of the proposed crossing points were discussed. The second meeting was then postponed by New Delhi.
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”.
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.”
The groundbreaking ceremony of the corridor in Pakistan was performed last year on November 28. 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 in Kartarpur Sahib (Narowal district).
The corridor is planned to be opened for Sikh pilgrims this year in commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
In January, Pakistan shared its draft of Kartarpur Corridor Accord with India and invited its delegation for a visit for negotiating 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 to the position taken by India in response to its original suggestion, vowed to “take the process forward”.
The announcement came a week after the Indian Air Force (IAF) violated 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.
Amidst rhetoric by Indian officials in the aftermath of the attack, Pakistan had called back its high commissioner in India for consultations on Feb 18. The high commissioner returned to India last week as tensions began to defuse after intervention by influential world capitals.
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 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.