India, Pakistan officials to meet on Sept 4 to finalise pact on Kartarpur corridor
India and Pakistan will hold another meeting on September 4 to finalise the agreement on operationalising the Kartarpur corridor in time for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The meeting will be held on the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border on Wednesday, officials said.
The meeting on finalising the agreement on the modalities of the corridor, which will link Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan, will be a follow-up to meetings of technical experts.
The technical-level meetings have focused on finalising the alignment of the temporary road for the corridor, modalities to exchange information about using the corridor, and modalities to cope with emergencies, including medical cases. The latest technical-level meeting of officials from India and Pakistan was held on August 30 during which Pakistan expressed its inability to complete an all-weather bridge on its side on a creek of the Ravi river as part of the corridor by the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November.
During the second meeting, which took place on July 14, the two sides agreed to complete the construction of the 4.2km four-lane highway connecting the zero point of the Kartarpur corridor to Gurdaspur-Amritsar highway by September 30, while the Passenger Terminal Complex at Dera Baba Nanak will be completed by October 31, Union ministry of home affairs had said in a statement.
Built with a budget of ₹500 crore on 15 acres, the Passenger Terminal Complex have all public amenities to enable smooth passage of approximately 5,000 pilgrims per day.
Joint secretary, internal security, in India’s ministry of home affairs, SCL Das, who led the Indian delegation during the second joint secretary-level talks with their Pakistani counterparts in Wagah, said: “Both sides have agreed to maintain a channel of communication and work towards finalisation on the agreement of modalities. If required, our delegations could meet in India to formally concluding the agreement.”
“We have been able to narrow down the differences since the first meeting held on March 14 this year. Our technical teams will meet further to ensure seamless connectivity. Details will be further worked out,” Das added.
The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to obtain a permit to visit Darbar Sahib, built at the spot where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, spent the last years of his life.
Last month, Pakistani authorities decided to start the process of issuance of visas to Sikh pilgrims from India and around the world to attend the 550th birth anniversary of the Guru in Nankana Sahib on September 1.
Last week, special assistant to the Pakistan Prime Minister on information and broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the opening of Kartarpur corridor will remain on track irrespective of Pakistan’s ties with India over the Kashmir crisis, rejecting rumours that Pakistan had stalled the work on the corridor after the country’s relations with its neighbour strained in the aftermath of India’s decision to change the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The historic corridor will be inaugurated in November this year, she said.