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  4. India meets Pakistan for second round of talks on Kartarpur corridor; security, infrastructure discussed

India meets Pakistan for second round of talks on Kartarpur corridor; security, infrastructure discussed

After much pressure from the Indian side, Pakistan on Saturday had dropped the name of pro-Khalistani leader Gopal Singh Chawla from the Kartarpur panel. The Imran-Khan led country, however, included the name of another pro-Khalistani leader Ameer Singh in the panel. The talks between India and Pakistan are slated to be held at the Attari-Wagah border.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: July 14, 2019 11:49 IST
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Image Source : PTI

India-Pakistan to hold talks on Kartarpur corridor today

Officials from India and Pakistan on Sunday began the second round of talks to discuss draft agreement and operationalisation of the Kartarpur corridor and related technical issues.

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.

India also raised concerns over the security aspect with the Kartarpur corridor. 

Mohammad Faisal, who is also the Director General of South Asia and SAARC, said Pakistan is participating in the talks with a positive mindset.

"The first round of talks was successful and we were ready for the second round in April," he said, adding that the second round of talks is "very important."

"Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wants peace in the region. He is committed to open the corridor in time for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak in November 2019," he added.

The first round of talks was held in Attari on March 14 in the shadow of escalating bilateral tensions following the Pulwama terror attack by a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed on February 14.

Both sides had jointly surveyed the coordinates of the Zero Point and discussed the technical details, including finished road level, high flood level etc.

Earlier, New Delhi had conveyed strong concerns over the presence of a leading Khalistani separatist in a committee appointed by Islamabad on the project.

On Saturday, Pakistan had dropped the name of pro-Khalistani leader Gopal Singh Chawla from the Kartarpur. However, the Imran-Khan led country has now added the name of another known pro-Khalistani leader, Ameer Singh, in the panel. 

Ameer Singh is said to be the brother of known Khalistani leader Bishen Singh. Ameer is also said to be among the frontline leaders of the Khalistani movement in Pakistan, according to the Political Edge.

India had voiced objections to the presence of pro-Khalistani elements in the PSGPC panel which would coordinate the activities of the Kartarpur corridor, including the movement of Sikh pilgrims from India to Narowal in Pakistan where the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, is located. 

The project will allow easy access to Sikh pilgrims from India to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan, the final resting place of Guru Nanak.

"Issues pertaining to the modalities of the corridor, who can use the corridor and its facilities, how can the pilgrims move across with regards to documents required for the travel, how many pilgrims can travel will be on the agenda during the meeting," sources said.

They also added that a "hi-tech and robust security system" will be in place when the corridor becomes operational.

"Security is paramount and non-negotiable," they said.

The sources said the work on a four-lane highway on the Indian side is in full swing.

The four-lane highway connecting the Zero Point of the Kartarpur Corridor up to National Highway-354 is being constructed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Pakistan is constructing a two-lane highway.

Officials said the work on the four-lane highway should be completed by September.

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 and address concerns regarding flooding.

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 in areas on the Indian side but also pose a threat to the structure of the bridge, the sources added.

The creek floods during the monsoon when the Ravi river swells.

Another proposal put forth by Pakistan was to build a causeway, the sources said, adding that it was unacceptable to India as it would not provide an all-weather road.

They said the construction work at the site of passenger terminal complex at Dera Baba Nanak in India is on full swing.

The work has been planned to be completed by October 31 before the commemoration of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November.

More than 250 labourers and 30 engineers are working at the site in three shifts, they said.

The terminal is being built on around 15 acres of land with comprehensive facilities to cater to approximately 5,000 pilgrims daily, the sources said.

The complex will have the robust security systems with CCTV surveillance and other advance security systems and adequate parking space for 10 buses, 250 cars, and 250 two- wheelers.

The area will be developed with amalgamation of rich Indian culture and state-of-the-art infrastructure with eye- soothing landscaping. More than Rs 500 crore will been spent for the development of this complex.

"On special days, we are expecting 10,000 pilgrims a day," one of the sources said.

The passenger terminal building is being constructed by the Land Ports Authority of India. The work for it was awarded to the Shapoorji Pallonji Group on May 29.

The land acquisition process has been completed with the support of the Punjab government and the project is scheduled to be completed by October 31.

The total cost of the project is Rs 177.5 crore.

In November 2018, 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 in Punjab's Gurdaspur district.

Kartarpur is located in Pakistan's Narowal district, about four km from Dera Baba Nanak.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had on November 26 last year laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor in Gurdaspur district.

Two days later, the Pakistani prime minister laid the foundation stone of the corridor in Narowal, around 125 km from Lahore.

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Also Read | Pakistan removes pro-Khalistani leader from Kartarpur panel, but includes another

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