ISLAMABAD: Just two days after India sent a proposal to resume dialogue on Kartarpur Corridor, Pakistan on Tuesday accepted the request and confirmed the date and venue for the talks.
According to a statement of released by the Foreign Office (FO), the second meeting to discuss the draft agreement for finalising the modalities of Kartarpur Corridor and related technical issues will be held on July 14 at Pakistani side of Wagah Border.
Pakistan has also requested India to convey the composition of its delegation.
FO further stated that Pakistan remains committed to expedited 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.
On June 30, India had proposed to hold talks with Pakistani officials on Kartarpur Corridor between July 11 and 14 on the Pakistani side of Wagah Border to take the project further, with the aim of completing it by November ahead of the birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.
According to the plan proposed by India, both sides would discuss a draft agreement pertaining to issues related to the project’s infrastructure and alignment and the facilitating the movement of Sikh yatrees.
The development followed nearly three months of silence which was preceded by India’s decision to postpone the talks scheduled for April 2 over the alleged inclusion of pro-Khalistan activists in the Pakistani committee.
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 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.
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).
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.