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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

India defers Kartarpur meet over Khalistan row

According to the officials, even if Pakistan responds to India’s request for clarifications before April 2, a decision on the meeting will be made only after examining the response.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2019 08:22 IST
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the shrine of spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev in Kartarpur, Pakistan
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the shrine of spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev in Kartarpur, Pakistan(AP File Photo)
         

India has postponed the second meeting with Pakistan to discuss modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor, scheduled for April 2, over concerns about the inclusion of pro-Khalistan activists in a Pakistani committee to facilitate Sikh pilgrims, officials with knowledge of the matter said on Friday.

The external affairs ministry summoned Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner Syed Haider Shah to convey concerns after the formation of the 10-member Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) and to seek clarifications, they said.

One of the officials, who asked not to be named, said the meeting, to be held at Wagah in Pakistan, had been “rescheduled”. A ministry statement said the next meeting on modalities “can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving Pakistan’s response”.

According to the officials, even if Pakistan responds to India’s request for clarifications before April 2, a decision on the meeting will be made only after examining the response. Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal expressed regret at India’s decision and said in a tweet the “last minute postponement...is incomprehensible”.

The corridor will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district. New Delhi was irked after Islamabad announced on Wednesday the formation of the PSGPC, which includes pro-Khalistan activists such as Gopal Chawla, Bisan Singh and Kuljeet Singh. Pakistan said the panel will facilitate Sikh pilgrims.

Officials said Chawla is associated with internationally designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba. They said there will be no compromise on “security concerns” and India is open to taking forward discussions once the concerns are satisfactorily addressed by Pakistan.

“Pakistan’s information minister announced the 10-member committee that includes Gopal Chawla, Tara Singh and Kuljeet Singh — all of whom have been actively associated with spreading disunity within and hate against India. How can these elements be allowed to be associated with the Kartarpur project?” said a second official .

First Published: Mar 29, 2019 23:54 IST