New Delhi: Pakistan on Tuesday said that a delegation would visit India on March 14 to discuss a draft agreement for setting up a corridor to facilitate visa-free visit of Sikh pilgrims to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. The bilateral meeting was earlier scheduled to take place on March 13. The development came amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan after Pulwama terror attack that left 40 CRPF personnel martyred on February 14. Pakistan based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) has claimed responsibility for the ghastly attack.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal, who is also the Director General South Asia and SAARC has reportedly invited India’s acting High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia at the ministry of foreign affairs to convey the decision. “The Pakistan delegation will visit New Delhi on 14 March 2019, followed by the return visit of the Indian delegation to Islamabad on 28 March 2019, to discuss the draft Agreement on Kartarpur Corridor,” a statement said.
Faisal informed the Indian diplomat that Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood, will be returning to New Delhi after the completion of consultations in Islamabad. He also conveyed that Pakistan was committed to continue weekly contact at the Military Operations Directorates level.
Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, the first Gurdwara, was established by Guru Nanak Dev in 1522, where he is said to have died. The corridor will facilitate the visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.
Last year on November 22, India’s cabinet passed a resolution to celebrate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji in 2019 and approved the building of Kartarpur Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur District till the border. On the same day, Delhi informed Islamabad through Pakistan’s high commission in Delhi its decision to build Kartarpur Corridor and urged Pakistan to develop a corridor in their territory from the International Border to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone for the construction of the corridor on the Indian side on November 26. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone on November 28 on its side of the border. Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister of State (IC) for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri attended the groundbreaking ceremony on the Pakistan side as representatives of the Government of India.
(With agency inputs)