Pakistan acts on India concern before meet
Pakistan dropped pro-Khalistan members from its Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee on Friday, accepting India’s demand, two days before officials of both countries meet at Wagah to discuss the Kartarpur Corridor.
Pakistani media reported late on Friday night that the ministry of religious affairs and inter-faith harmony had reconstituted the SGPC to drop some individuals India had objected to, including Gopal Singh Chawla, Tara Singh and Maninder Singh. The notification was issued earlier in the day.
However, till Saturday evening, there was no formal communication to India from Pakistan although New Delhi had sought a clarification on the inclusion of these individuals on March 29.
India will seek an assurance from Islamabad that it will insulate Indian pilgrims from pro-Khalistan elements, who have been marking their presence during Sikh pilgrimages to Pakistani shrines all of last year.
On March 29, India had decided to defer the second official-level talks — then scheduled for April 2 — with Pakistan on the Kartarpur Corridor till its concerns about Islamabad packing the reconstituted Pakistan SGPC with pro-Khalistan elements were addressed.
India eventually decided to hold the talks on Sunday in deference to the sentiments of the Sikh community, which is keen on the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor in time for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November. The corridor will allow pilgrims from India access to the final resting place of the first Sikh guru, located in Pakistan.
Official sources on Friday had said that the presence of pro-Khalistan elements in Pakistan’s SGPC at a time when India is expecting a surge in pilgrims to Dera Baba Sahib — the final resting place of Guru Nanak — would be raised at Sunday’s official level meeting at Wagah, the foot-crossing point on the Pakistani side.