CHANDIGARH: Amid ongoing bilateral tensions, India and Pakistan on Thursday held positive talks in a “conducive environment” on a draft agreement on the Kartarpur corridor connecting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Narowal district of Pakistan with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in India.
While the first round of talks were held at the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Attari border, the next round is slated for April 2 at the Wagah border. Before that, technical experts of both countries will meet on March 19 to finalise the alignment.
India, however, underlined that this meeting should not be treated as the resumption of bilateral dialogue.
The Indian side sought visa-free access for 5,000 pilgrims each day to the gurdwara in Pakistan.
After the five-hour meeting with the 18-member Pakistani delegation, S C L Das, joint secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs said, “We sought access to at least 5,000 pilgrims per day - not just for Indian nationals but people of Indian origin as well - on all seven days of a week without any break.” Pakistan was also asked to accommodate a much larger size of jathhas of pilgrims on special days like Gurupurab and Baisakhi, when the corridor would receive massive footfall, he said.
“We told Pakistan that the corridor should be barred for miscreants,’’ MEA official Deepak Mittal said. Sources said Pakistan assured that pilgrims would not be subjected to Khalistani propaganda.
A joint statement issued by both the countries said, “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.’’