All eyes on India-Pakistan talks on Kartarpur Corridor at Wagah

All eyes on India-Pakistan talks on Kartarpur Corridor at Wagah

Agency News

New Delhi, Jul 14: Nearly four months after the first round of talks in March, Indian and Pakistani official level delegations will meet on Sunday at Wagah to work towards expeditiously operationalising the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.

Indian officials will raise a number of issues including its concerns about the general security and safety of the Indian pilgrims, presence of pro-Khalistani elements in Pakistan's official panel on the Corridor, infrastructure and logistics issue. "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," an official source said here.

Kartarpur is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the river Ravi and is about four km from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district. In November last year, both India and Pakistan agreed to set up the border-crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak, to Dera Baba Nanak.

India had earlier this year raised serious objections to the presence of a pro-Khalistani element Gopal Singh 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.

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 that talks are expected to be held as scheduled 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).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 pro-Khalistani elements and other issues like infrastructure and progress in ongoing works 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.

Pakistan Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal is leading the Pakistani side. In March talks, Indian delegation was led by SCL Das, Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry. 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.

For their part, Pakistan first said it would build a mud-filled embankment, a move which would not only lead to flooding. "At the next level, when this was opposed by Indian side, they agreed to construct concretized structure. This too will be unsafe and not acceptable," a source said, adding such adhoc and risk-prone arrangements "should not be thought of". A senior Indian official also insist that - "The idea is to make the corridor happen. It is linked to people's faith and sentiment and ...... we will not spare any effort."UNI