Pakistan team to visit India on March 13 for Kartarpur corridor discussions

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By IANS on 07/02/2019.

Pakistan team to visit India on March 13 for Kartarpur corridor discussions

New Delhi/Islamabad, Feb 7:  A team from Pakistan will visit India on March 13 to discuss and finalise the modalities for visit of pilgrims to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahab through the Kartarpur corridor with New Delhi on Thursday accepting the dates proposed by Islamabad.

“We welcome the visit of Pakistan team to discuss and finalise modalities for facilitating visit of pilgrims through Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on March 13, 2019 to India. Follow up meeting can be held in Pakistan, as required,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.

India has also proposed technical level discussions between engineers on both sides and hoped that Pakistan will respond positively.

“For expeditious realisation of Kartarpur Corridor, India has also proposed technical level discussions between engineers on both sides without waiting for discussion on the modalities. We hope Pakistan would positively respond & confirm coordinates of crossing point as well,” Kumar said in another tweet.

Earlier on Thursday, Pakistan on Thursday offered to send a delegation to India on March 13 to finalise the draft agreement for the Kartarpur corridor.

“In a spirit of constructive engagement Pakistan has proposed to India that the Pakistan delegation may visit India on 13 March followed by the return visit of the Indian delegation to Pakistan on 28 March to finalise the draft agreement for the Kartarpur corridor,” Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said in tweets.

“We look forward to positive reciprocity from India,” he added.

The proposal from Pakistan, which had earlier been seeking talks be held in the country and had pitched for Kartarpur Sahab itself as a site, came after reports that India would will soon send a draft proposal for the corridor.

India, which had last month shared with Pakistan the coordinates of the Kartarpur Corridor zero point, had also proposed two sets of dates, February 26 and March 7, for the visit of Pakistan delegation to New Delhi to discuss and finalise the modalities so that Indian pilgrims can visit the gurdwara using the corridor at the earliest.

The shrine, located about 3km from the international border near the town of Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, is highly significant for the Sikh community as it is here that Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life and is his final resting place.

On Tuesday, Indian Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba held a high level meeting in New Delhi to fast-track the implementation of the corridor project.

Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Border Security Force Director General R.K. Misra, Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad Ajay Bisaria and senior officers of other agencies attended the meeting where they discussed acquisition of land for the highway as well as for the integrated check-post.

The meeting was informed that the preliminary notification for land acquisition for the highway has been issued.

Home Ministry officials said the Punjab government has assured that land for both the projects would be made available by mid-March.

The land to start preliminary work would be made available to the National Highway Authority of India and the Land Ports Authority of India.

The Indian government had in November 22, 2018 decided to develop the Kartarpur Corridor from Gurdaspur to the International Border to facilitate pilgrims’ passage to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahab as part of the 550th birth year celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, later this year.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone for the corridor on the Indian side on November 26, while Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone on November 28 on their side of the border, in presence of Indian ministers Hardeep Singh Puri and Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.