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India disappointed by Pakistan’s shifting stance on Kartarpur corridor: Sources

Differences emerged during talks between India and Pakistan on the number of pilgrims permitted daily, the number of days the Kartarpur corridor connecting the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib would be operational and a permit system for pilgrims.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2019 17:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India,Pakistan,Kartarpur corridor
Indian and Pakistani officials Attari-Wagha border during a bilateral meeting to discuss the Kartarpur Corridor that will connect pilgrims to the Gurdwara in Kartarpur Sahib on Thursday. (HT PHOTO)

The Indian government believes Pakistan has shifted the goalposts for the Kartarpur corridor project, including caps on the number of pilgrims using it every day and the introduction of a paid permit system, people familiar with developments said on Saturday.

Officials from the two countries held their first meeting to discuss modalities and a draft agreement on the corridor at Attari on March 14. Several differences – including on the number of pilgrims permitted daily, the number of days the corridor would be operational and a permit system for pilgrims – emerged during these talks.

New Delhi is also concerned about plans by Sikh groups from the US, Canada and Australia to hold events in Pakistan to publicise “Referendum 2020” – a non-binding vote on a separate nation of Khalistan – and has taken up this issue with Islamabad, the people cited above said.

Also read: Pak response on India’s demands on Kartarpur Corridor inadequate: Punjab CM

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initial announcement on the Kartarpur corridor, which will connect Dera Baba Nanak in India with Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, gave impression of a generous and open-ended offer, but Islamabad’s focus during the discussions this week was narrow and with a limited focus, the people said.

India was disappointed the proposed caps on the number of pilgrims and the introduction of the permit and fee systems, they added.

However, India is committed to operationalising the project in time for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikhism, in November.

Also read:  Kartarpur corridor: Visa-free access sought for 5,000 Indians a day

Referring to Referendum 2020, the people said a small group of overseas Sikhs from the US, Australia and Canada was engaging in an activity that is tantamount to interference in India’s internal affairs. This group doesn’t represent the views of Sikh community at large and this issue has been raised with Pakistan and the other countries, they added.

First Published: Mar 16, 2019 16:13 IST