New Delhi: India and Pakistan officials are holding a meet today to finalise the modalities of the Kartarpur Corridor and technical issues relating to it.
The meeting is taking place at Wagah, sources said. The two countries were supposed to meet on April 2 in Pakistan but that meeting was postponed after reports surfaced about the appointment of “controversial elements” like Gopal Singh Chawla, a known Khalistani, by Pakistan in a committee.
Only a day ago, Pakistan reconstituted its Sikh Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) list, dropping Chawla from the list.
The meeting started at 9 AM and is expected to finish by 1 PM with both sides holding separate press conferences after the talks. The Indian delegation is led by MHA Joint Secretary (Internal Security) SCL Das and MEA Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) Deepak Mittal while the Pakistani side is led by Director-General South Asia and SAARC.
India would be taking up a number of key issues, including infrastructure, pilgrims’ movement and safety, government sources said. The Kartarpur route would allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan where Guru Nanak Dev died in 1539.
Sources said that the work on the corridor is expected to be completed by October 31, way before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
India is likely to demand the construction of a bridge by Pakistan. It has also raised concerns about the possible flooding of Dera Baba Nanak due to the construction of an embankment-filled road on the Pakistani side.
India has been building a bridge on its side to provide all-weather connectivity for the Kartarpur corridor and has urged Pakistan to build a similar bridge on their side for a safe movement of the pilgrims.
The other key issue would be the number of pilgrims allowed to access the corridor throughout the year, whether they would travel as individuals or groups, and whether they would travel by transport or foot.
Additionally, India will spend Rs 500 crore to build the corridor. The expense would include installing a high-tech security and surveillance system to ensure the safety of pilgrims and creating an all-weather facility to cater to 10,000 pilgrims on special occasions and 5,000 pilgrims on a daily basis.
The first round was held on March 14 on the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border where issues like finalisation of the draft agreement between the two countries were discussed.