Pak has narrow focus on Kartarpur; Fees for pilgrims unacceptable

Pak has narrow focus on Kartarpur; Fees for pilgrims unacceptable

Agency News

New Delhi, Mar 16: Contrary to the hype created by Pakistan on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, Indian officials on Saturday said here that the visiting delegation had a very 'narrow and limited focus' at the Attari talks, but New Delhi is firm about moving ahead with the discussions.

To the surprise of Indian delegation, at the Attari talks on Thursday, the Pakistani delegation spoke about a 'fee' for the pilgrims. This did definitely disappoint the Indian delegation, a source said here on Saturday.

Indian officials say contrary to the hype created about a perceived generosity on the part of Pakistan for throwing open the corridor, the formal discussions at Attari did not match such a promise.

India and Pakistan last year agreed to open a special border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur – the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev – to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district.

During Attari talks on Thursday, India pressed for visa-free travel for Kartarpur pilgrims.

'This corridor should be absolutely visa-free. There should not be any need for additional document and procedure so that the basic principle of smooth access of large number of pilgrims is allowed,'

SCL Das, Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry and leader of the Indian delegation has said.Officials from Home Ministry, Ministry of External Affairs, Border Security Force, Defence, Punjab government and Customs attended the deliberations from the Indian side.

The Pakistan delegation was led by Mohammad Faisal, DG in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Indian government remains firm about opening the Kartarpur corridor, says officials there is no doubt about it -- even as post-Pulwama and aerial strike, it was Pakistan who expressed doubts about the March 14 talks.

The second meeting will be held on April 2 and prior to that technical experts will meet on March 19 at the zero points.According to officials, Pakistan has lived up to its old reputation of making false promises, tall claims and delivering nothing.

On Friday, officials said here that Pakistan is being 'insincere' on the Kartarpur Corridor and among other things what have come to light is that authorities in Islamabad are agreeing to allow only 700 pilgrims per day as against 5,000 proposed by India.