Delegations of Indian and Pakistani officials began the second round of bilateral discussions over the Kartarpur corridor on Sunday, PTI reported. The officials discussed the draft agreement and operationalisation of the Kartarpur corridor and related technical matters.
“We are hopeful to have productive discussion and settlement of issues,” Pakistan Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said. “The 70% work on the corridor has been completed.”
The Indian team had arrived at the Attari border to hold talks on Sunday morning, ANI reported. On the Pakistani side, a delegation of 13 officials led by Mohammad Faisal took part in the meeting. The meeting took place at the Attari-Wagah border on the Pakistani side.
Faisal said Pakistan is participating in the talks with a positive mindset. “The first round of talks was successful and we were ready for the second round in April,” he said. “Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wants peace in the region. He is committed to open the corridor in time for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak in November 2019.”
“The meeting between both delegations has begun and likely to last for a few hours,” a Pakistan foreign office official told PTI. He said that the eight-member Indian delegation arrived at 9.15 am for talks.
A day ahead of the meeting, Pakistan reconstituted its Sikh Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee list, and dropped Khalistani leader Gopal Singh Chawla, over Indian concerns about his presence.
Matters that will be discussed at the meeting include the modalities of the corridor, who can use it, documents required for movement of pilgrims, and the number of people allowed, the Hindustan Times reported, citing sources. They will also talk about connectivity at Zero Point, where India is constructing a bridge. Work on a four-lane highway on the Indian side is also in full swing.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said on Thursday that any discussion on the Kartarpur corridor will be taken up with Pakistan in a meeting on July 14. Kumar added that India was committed to complete the project and expected two structural aspects of the corridor to be completed on time.
The first meeting between Indian and Pakistani officials was held on March 14 in Attari. At the meeting, India had urged Pakistan to provide visa-free access to 5,000 pilgrims a day initially, on all days of the week, to the Kartarpur shrine.
New Delhi and Islamabad laid the foundation stone for the project in November. The corridor will connect Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Punjab with the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of Pakistan’s Narowal district. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, died in Kartarpur in 1539. The corridor will allow Indian Sikh devotees to travel without visas to the pilgrimage site.