No talks on Kartarpur Corridor until Pakistan clears issues: Sources
The second meeting between India and Pakistan scheduled for April 2 to discuss the Kartarpur Corridor details may be postponed over security concerns and “gaps in position,” said a senior officer who did not wish to be named.
India said it has “shared concerns and sought clarifications” after reports suggested that a pro-Khalistani leader was one of the members appointed by Pakistan to a committee to help Indian pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.
Reports said that Pakistan’s minister for information Chaudhry Fawad Hussain had on Wednesday announced a ten-member committee that includes Khalistani leader Gopal Singh Chawla.
“India has also shared concerns and sought clarifications on reports that controversial elements have been appointed by Pakistan to a committee to be associated with the Kartarpur Corridor. It has been conveyed that the next meeting on the modalities can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving Pakistan’s response,” the ministry of external affairs said in a statement.
Sources said that Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner was called in by India to seek clarification from the neighbouring country on the issues raised. The next round of talks was scheduled to be held on April 2 at the Wagah border.
“There won’t be any meeting till clarifications are provided. The meeting is only for a substantive outcome and not optics,” a source said.
“We are keen on early resolution but cannot let up national security concerns,” the source said.
Chawla is known as one of the main propagators of the Sikh movement seeking a separate homeland for the community. He is reported to be the general secretary of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.
His name had cropped up in the investigations into the grenade attack on the Nirankari Bhawan in Amritsar in which three were killed in November last year. Chawla is also reported to have prevented Indian diplomats from visiting a gurdwara in Lahore.
The statement also said that India has sought clarifications from Pakistan on key proposals put forward by New Delhi at the last meeting held in Attari to discuss the modalities of the Kartarpur Corridor.
“Meanwhile, in order to take forward the infrastructure development for the Corridor in an expeditious manner, India has proposed to hold another meeting of technical experts in mid-April to resolve outstanding issues at the zero point agreed to at the last meeting,” it said.
Officials from Pakistan and India had held a meeting earlier in March to discuss the technical issues regarding the proposed corridor to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in no man’s land on the border in Dera Baba Nanak.
India and Pakistan agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in November last year. Kartarpur is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the Ravi, about 4km from the Dera Baba Nanak.
“The government of India remains committed to realise the long pending demand of the Indian pilgrims to visit the holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the Corridor in a safe, secure, smooth and easy manner,” the statement said.