Kartarpur talks at Wagah: Pak removes pro-Khalistani Chawla

Kartarpur talks at Wagah: Pak removes pro-Khalistani Chawla

Agency News

New Delhi, Jul 13: Stage is set for the much awaited second round of talks between India and Pakistan on Kartarpur Corridor at Wagah in Pakistan on Sunday.

Pakistan Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal tweeted to announce that - "Pakistan-India meeting on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor happens tomorrow, Sunday, at 9:30 am at Wagah".

Indian officials have confirmed on Saturday that talks are expected to be held as schedule and they had "high expectations" from the parleys. However, it has been clarified by a key official that the security of the Indian pilgrims will be of "paramount importance".

Giving in to specific demand from the Indian side, Pakistan government has on Saturday vide an official notification removed prominent pro-Khalistani separatist leader Gopal Singh Chawla from Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabandak Committee (PSGPC). India had raised serious objections to the presence of Chawla, also considered an aide of 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed. In fact, registering its protest over Chawla's name, India had canceled and postponed the April 2 second round of Kartarpur talks.

According to reports, some other names India had objected to have been dropped.
According to the new list of Pakistan SGPC, four members are from Punjab part of Pakistan, three from Khyber region, two from Singh and one from Balochistan. A source in the Indian side has said here that strong protest was made over the inclusion of the likes of Gopal Chawla and "we had sought clarification" on media reports.

However, some part of the controversy is apparently far from over as Ameer Singh, one member from Punjab region of Pakistan, is also known as a Khalistan supporter. Ameer Singh is also brother of 'known' Khalistani Bishen Singh, sources said. Sources in the know of things maintained that issues related to inclusion of Gopal Chawla and other issues will be raised at the talks from the Indian side at Sunday's talks. From the Indian side, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Punjab government and other agencies are working in close coordination to make the programme successful. There is smooth progress on the part of Indian agencies and a reputed builders M/S Shapoorji and Pallonji Pvt Ltd is undertaking the construction works under the supervision of Land Ports Authority of India.

"We are confident from our side....the works are going on in full swing and the work has been planned to be completed by October 31 before the commemoration of 550th birth anniversary of Shri Guru Nanak Devji in November 2019," the source said.The sources said India is constructing a bridge at the Zero Point and has urged Pakistan to build a similar bridge on its side that will provide safe and secure movement of the pilgrims. The bridge is over a creek, of which the majority part falls in Pakistan. Pakistan said it would build a mud-filled embankment, a move which would not only lead to flooding.

The project will allow easy access to Sikh pilgrims from India to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan, the resting place of the Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. The sources said the work on a four-lane highway on the Indian side is in full swing but doubts remain about the progress in Pakistani side. But the Indian officials declined to draw into any conclusion that chances of walking out from the talks arrived at this stage.

"The idea is to make the corridor happen. It is linked to people's faith and sentiment and ...... we will not spare any effort," a key source in the know of things said. "The government of India is very keen that we are able to establish the corridor......and our expectation is that the otherside (Pakistan) would also come up with the matching response," the source said. From the Indian side, it has been made clear that security would be non-negotiable as agencies suspect that Pakistan could be keen to use the 'corridor' and presence of good number of Indians in their territory to rekindle the Khalistani movement. (UNI)