Thursday Mar 14, 2019
LAHORE: Pakistan and India held "positive talks in a conducive environment" on the draft agreement of Kartarpur corridor connecting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Narowal district with Dera Baba Nanak in India's Gurdaspur, the Foreign Office spokesperson said on Thursday.
Director General South Asia and SAARC Dr Mohammad Faisal, who led the Pakistani delegation during the talks in Attari in Indian state of Punjab, told reporters upon returning to the Wagah border that the meeting was "powerful".
"It was a powerful meeting, [the two sides] held positive talks," the spokesperson informed, adding that another round of talks will be held at the Wagah border on April 2.
There were differences on certain aspects, the details of which cannot be revealed at the moment, the spokesperson added.
The Pakistani delegation, which also comprised members of a technical team, had arrived in Attari via the Wagah border earlier today to discuss issues relating to the corridor, its construction, road, and other technicalities.
"The first meeting to discuss the modalities and the draft agreement for facilitation of pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib using the Kartarpur Corridor was held today at Attari, India in a cordial environment," said a joint press statement by the two countries.
"The Indian delegation was led by Mr S.C.L. Das, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Pakistan delegation was led by Dr Mohammad Faisal, DG (SA & SAARC) of Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"Both sides held detailed and constructive discussions on various aspects and provisions of the proposed agreement and agreed to work towards expeditiously operationalising the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor."
The statement further added: "Both sides also held expert level discussions between the technical experts on the alignment and other details of the proposed corridor."
"It was agreed to hold the next meeting at Wagah on 2 April 2019. This will be preceded by a meeting of the technical experts on 19 March 2019 at the proposed zero points to finalise the alignment," it read.
The proposal to construct the corridor providing visa-free access to Sikh pilgrims was renewed by Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in August 2018.
Speaking to the media at the Wagah border prior to departure, Dr Faisal had said the dialogue on Kartarpur corridor was a step forward in the right direction in the current situation from conflict to cooperation, animosity to peace and enmity to friendship.
He had further said Pakistan agreed to the Indian proposal of meeting at Attari in-line with its sincere efforts to de-escalate the situation for regional peace and stability. "Pakistan is moving forward with the spirit of constructive engagement and flexibility," he had said.
"The opening of Kartarpur corridor is a longstanding demand of the Sikhs community and Prime Minister Imran Khan's initiative is reflective of the importance that Pakistan gives to all its minorities," Dr Faisal had added.
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province holds religious significance for the Sikh community. It is where Baba Guru Nanak settled down after his travels as a missionary. He lived there for 18 years until his death in 1539.
Pakistan will build the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab's Gurdaspur district up to the border will be constructed by India.
In November last year, Prime Minister Imran had laid the foundation stone for the corridor. Former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, Indian Minister for Food Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Indian Minister for Housing Hardeep S Puri had attended the groundbreaking ceremony.