The first formal meeting to discuss the Kartarpur Corridor was held between officials of India and Pakistan was held on Thursday at Wagah border. And the discussions on setting up a visa-free corridor between the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistani and the Gurdaspur district in India turned out to be “constructive”.
The Kartarpur corridor proposal is to let Indian Sikh pilgrims commute visa-free transit from the Guru Nanak shrike at Gurdaspur district in India’s Punjab and the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib shrine located town of Kartarpur in Pakistan. Compartmenting the tension between India and China after Pulwama attack, both the neighbouring countries held first meeting to discuss and formalise the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims – and the meeting was held in Attari – the Indian side of Wagah border.
At the Kartarpur meet on Thursday, the Indian delegation was led by SCL Das, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs – and the Pakistan delegation was led by Dr Mohammad Faisal, Spokesperson, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And at the meeting India had insisted on “arranging the visit of at least 5,000 pilgrims per day – to begin with – in the phase-1 of the project” – and shrine to be kept open round the year. It must be noted that the visa-free corridor proposal is not just for Indian pilgrims – but also for Indian origin visitors living in Pakistan.
After the meeting, India and Pakistan officials gave a joint statement that, “Both sides held detailed and constructive discussions on various aspects and provisions of the proposed agreement and agreed to work towards expeditiously operationalizing the Kartapur Sahib Corridor”. The next meeting between technical experts will be held on March 19, which will be followed by second diplomatic meeting on April 2. This could have been a sign of released tension between the two countries, but MEA Joint Secretary Deepak Mittal clarified that it does not imply “resumption of dialogue with Pakistan” – and the purpose is just to ease movement for pilgrims in the belt.