India-Pakistan meeting on Kartarpur corridor begins
A meeting between officials of India and Pakistan to finalise the modalities for setting up a corridor linking the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Gurdaspur district in Punjab commenced in Attari on Thursday, officials said.
The talks are being held on the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border, they said.
This is the first meeting between Indian and Pakistani officials to discuss the Kartarpur corridor issue, amid heightened tensions between the two nations over the Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot airstrike.
At the meeting, New Delhi is likely to raise the issue of hassle-free access to Indian pilgrims besides asking Islamabad to insulate Sikh pilgrims visiting the shrine in Pakistan from pro-Khalistan propaganda.
The Indian officials at the meeting comprised representatives from the Union home ministry, the external affairs ministry, the BSF, the National Highways Authority of India and the Punjab government.
Last November, both India and Pakistan had agreed to set up the Kartarpur corridor to link the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib — the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev — to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.
Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the Ravi river, about 4 km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.
The corridor will facilitate visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur. Pakistan has committed to opening the corridor in November this year on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh had on November 26 last year laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor in Gurdaspur district.
Two days later, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor in Narowal, 125 km from Lahore.
The Punjab cabinet had passed a special resolution to set up a Dera Baba Nanak Development Authority for the development and beautification of the area in and around Dera Baba Nanak.
A Kartarpur Gate has also been proposed to be set up on the Indian side of the international border. A proposed passenger terminal building complex will have all the necessary amenities to facilitate pilgrims intending to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara.